Whether it’s the next generation or first generation, there’s arguably more opportunity than ever for young and beginning producers to make their way into agriculture and leave their mark on the industry.
Perhaps it’s the unique combination of significant urban and suburban population centers (Harrisburg, Philadelphia, Wilmington, Baltimore, and the D.C. suburbs) within close proximity to highly productive agricultural regions (the Shenandoah Valley, Southeast Pennsylvania, and the Delmarva Peninsula), but the buzz around agriculture of all shapes, sizes, and iterations throughout the communities we serve is tremendous.
We see new producers with diverse professional backgrounds utilizing sophisticated methods to connect with customers, while at the same time employing centuries-old cultivation techniques to carve their niche market. Young men and women, returning from school or pivoting (as so many have done these last 18 months) from their current career track, are finding opportunity across the wide breadth and depth of the diverse agriculture industry in our region.
As a rural and agricultural lending cooperative, Farm Credit knows agriculture can be a tough business, particularly for those producers just starting out. We also know the average age of the American farmer is 57.5 (according to the 2017 U.S. Census of Agriculture), and in order to ensure we continue to produce the food, fuel, and fiber consumers near and far demand, it is essential to support young and beginning farmers.
For the above reasons and many others, we have decided to launch our first-ever Farmers on the Rise award program this month to recognize the next generation of agriculture. This program was created to honor farm owner-operators who excel in their field, based on their efforts in agriculture, financial character, leadership, community wellbeing, and environmental stewardship. We will offer five $10,000 awards to the top five contestants. Applications are accepted online only at mafc.com/rise by November 1, 2021.
We are excited to see all of the innovative, unique plans our future ag leaders have in store! If you’re ready to discuss options for loans or programs for your farm business, give us a call today at 888.339.3334.