The American farmer is starting to get old! The average age of the farmer has been steadily increasing over the past 30 years and is now past 58 years old according to the most recent Census of Agriculture released by the US Department of Agriculture National Agricultural Statistic Service.
As farmers get older and more retire, who will replace them? According to the census these new farmers are organic!
Organic farmers are more likely to be young and just starting out than conventional farmers. Some 27 percent of organic farmers went into farming in the past 10 years, and 26 percent of organic farmers are under 45. Overall, just 16 percent of all farmers are under 45, and only18 percent of all farmers began their careers on the land during the past decade.
Demand for organic food continues to grow as consumers become increasingly concerned about what’s in the food they eat and feed their families and how it’s grown. The “USDA Organic” seal issued by the U.S. Department of Agriculture gives consumers peace of mind. They can be sure that products carrying the seal have been produced without genetically engineered seeds, most synthetic fertilizers, toxic persistent pesticides, antibiotics and growth hormones.
One of the farmers who took advantage of the new demand for organic food is first-generation American, veteran, and urban farmer Edgar Hercila. After his discharge from the U.S. Army, Hercila founded Civitas Organics Inc., an urban farm in Orange County, Calif., and began growing organic food for inner-city schools. He is a core member of Teaching Gardens, which is in more than 300 schools nationally.
Another young organic farmer is J.P. Perez, who discovered the Agricultural Land Based Training Association while in college. The program taught him the benefits of organic agriculture in promoting human and environmental health by farming in harmony with the resources of the planet. Now he works with his parents Florencia and Pablo at the family farm, J&P Organics, growing organic fruits and vegetables for more than 500 customers in three counties.
New farmers like these know that organic is the future of food and that the organic industry offers real opportunities for farmers as the supply of organic food struggles to keep up with the growing demand.