Categories Agriculture

The Greying of Agriculture: Farm Operators Aging


The average age of American farmers is 54.3 years. In 1997, 61 percent of farmers were over the
age of 55, up from 37 percent in 1954.

 

On average, farmers are older than workers in other careers. According to the
U.S. Department of Agriculture, 12 percent of workers in the
civilian work force were over age 55 in 1997. For a complete listing of farm operators by age
from 1910 to 1997, see USDA’s Economic Research Service
agricultural census data
in PDF format.

Why are American farmers older today than in the past? Overall, Americans are living longer today,
and, as self-employed individuals, farmers can continue to work after others have retired. Also,
the mechanization of agriculture has helped older farmers continue to farm using machinery instead
of physical labor.

As with society, the future of farming depends on new, younger farmers entering the industry. The
share of farmers younger than 35 has declined from 15 percent in 1954 to 8 percent in 1997. This
shrinkage is attributed to the decline in farm numbers and the fact that families are having fewer
children than in the past.

New farmers typically enter the industry through the family farm business. The decision to enter
farming depends on the attractiveness of farm versus non-farm employment. When the non-farm
economy is robust, young people may opt for higher incomes available off the farm.

USDA’s Economic Research Service suggests that it takes
$500,000 in assets to fully support a farm household. So, access to financial capital can be a
stumbling block for young farmers eager to enter the industry. Currently, several state and
federal program exist to help young farmers. The Agricultural Credit Improvement Act of 1992
created a beginning farmers down payment farm ownership loan program, and required USDA’s
Farm Service Agency to target a percentage of its loans to
beginning farmers and ranchers.

While the aging of America’s farmers is unlikely to affect the nation’s food supply (because of
advances in technology), it is a concern for the structure of farming. The Secretary of Agriculture
has appointed a Beginning Farmers Advisory Committee to make recommendations on financial
assistance and methods to create new farming and ranching opportunities.…

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Categories Farming

Vertical Farming: Can it Help Us Survive Climate Change?

One of the facts of climate change that many don’t consider is the potential disruption of our food supply. I guess this is forgivable since most folks are ignorant of where food comes from and how much effort was put into getting it from seed to your plate. Still, this small blip on the radar right now, due to the ease of obtaining a can of peaches in winter, is getting closer and we’ll be dealing with it in our lifetimes. Obviously the best solution would be to eliminate the problem with zero carbon emissions and a stable global population. Since these aren’t going to seem like attractive options until the disaster is upon us, and it’s way too late, people are working on ways to mitigate some of the worst effects and increase our security.

If you are poor in America or anywhere else, you’ve thought about food security. The sterling effort underway is to increase the amount of food growing in U.S. cities through urban agriculture, which at once addresses the problems of malnutrition, climate change, failing local economies, and loss of community. Some models of sustainable cities seek to retrofit every residential block with an area that would recycle gray water, run-off, and organic waste, while turning these “waste” products into the resident’s next meal.

Most of the hands-on work is being done by poor people in the inner cities who have taken the initiative to transform vacant lots into income and food generators. And there’s a lot going on. Urban agriculture has taken hold in the rust belt cities, places of concentrated poverty. Chicago, Detroit, Baltimore, Cleveland, and others are producing more of their food every season and with minimal help from city officials.

But this could still end badly. Climate change is going to do some rather unpredictable things to global weather patterns and local miniclimates. The successful urban farms of Detroit this year could next year be facing unforeseen drought, flooding, and frosts. Considering a systems analysis of climate change dynamics, where the more an ice sheet melts then the faster it melts versus the old ideas of a steady and predictably slow climate change based solely on greenhouse gas composition, we’ll be dealing with problems a lot earlier …

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Categories Farming

Is Fish Farming a Long-Term Solution?

When it comes to farming fish most people think this is the way of the future. That fish farming will help solve the problem of over fishing. Since over fishing in the ocean began, various fish stocks have collapse. This has left whole fishing towns with nothing. However, in some cases farming fish can have just as severe effects.

One of the most popular fish stocks to farm is the Atlantic salmon. Atlantic salmon is higher on the food chain compared to other fishing stocks like Tilapia. Atlantic salmons diet mainly consists of other fish. Tilapia and catfish, on the other hand, are mostly vegetarians. We get the fish to feed these farms full of salmon from the ocean. Fish like anchovies and sardines are caught by the millions and made into fishmeal. So the oceans are still being over fished. The fishmeal is then sent to various fisheries to support the growing number of fish farms in America. When it comes to feeding the salmon it takes approximately three pounds of wild fish to produce one pound of salmon, as stated by edf.org.

There is also the problem of pollution for most of these fish farms. These fish farms consist of many fish jam packed into a small area. As the fish grow there feces builds up quickly, and there is nowhere to put such a quantity of excrement. In the wild, the current will break down the poop quickly, and no build up will occur. Another problem for fish farms is the mercury content of this fish is more concentrated. This is mainly due to them only being fed fish. Wild salmon populations do eat fish; they also maintain a diet of many other organisms.

Where fish farming is making strides is in the catfish and Tilapia market. However, they still have problems with pollution it is not as severe. Monsterfishkeepers.com states that it only takes 1.2 pounds of food to produce 1 pound of Tilapia. Tilapia is lower on the food chain, so they do not need fishmeal as much as salmon do. However, more fishmeal is starting to be added to the diets of Tilapia to gain weight faster. The same thing is currently occurring with catfish.

Wild Alaskan Salmon …

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Categories Farming

Is Ranching and Animal Farming Morally Right?

Very many years ago, when the world was green and the environment was pollution free, livestock and poultry were fed foods that were unadulterated or polluted by pesticides or hormones. Advancement in science and technology and the material needs of the human being has pushed him to devise new methods to increase his production, be it food grains or livestock. So eating meat today is totally different to eating it long ago, as today’s meat is adulterated and contaminated meat, which is very harmful to us.

The farming techniques in vogue today increase production but the environmental damage they cause has to be borne by the future generations of our planet. In the United States, which is a huge consumer of animal food, raising livestock is a huge burden on the environment as the food and water to raise animals requires more than half the available resources in the United States.

This livestock farming industry also contributes to pollution in a big way by polluting our rivers and lakes but also cause soil erosion, which can turn disastrous in the future.

Almost ninety percent of the entire farmable land of the country is used for livestock farming. That is almost half of the land mass of the United States.

Other factors that cause heavy environmental degradation is methane emission, the chief contributor to methane emission is cattle.

Livestock farming or raising animals for food has caused irreparable damage to the country’s water resources as the huge volumes of animal excrement end up in our rivers or lakes.

The available raw materials and fossil fuels in the United States is consumed by this animal farming industry and this industry alone consumes a whopping 33 percent of available fossil fuel resources.

Forests are destroyed to make space for animal farming. The moral aspect of this involves cruel treatment of the animals themselves, add to this the overhead costs involved in animal farming then eating animal meat is like an inhuman way of killing our economy and our planet itself. So make a pledge today to say no to animal meat in your food and turn to alternative healthier way of living like vegetarian diets. Make the decision that will change the planet for good and make a …

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