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Is helping young farmers impractical?

Agriculture.com Staff 04/14/2013 @ 9:58pm

By Dr. Donald J. Jonovic


Submitted by T.T. via email:

I truly enjoy reading your column every month, but your January advice to the couple on how to keep their land while helping a neighbor's son get started I took personally. Read Dr. Jonovic's January column.

I am a 25-year-old farmer from an operation that did not have room for me. When I was 20 years old, I was blessed with an opportunity to have a retired couple give me the chance to cash-rent their farm; they also helped me out with some equipment needs.

It was only 111 acres, but if they had not given me that opportunity, I am certain I would not be farming today. Instead, with a lot of hard work and sweat equity, I am now proud to be farming 400 acres.

Some people may look at me and laugh at the fact that I am only farming 400 acres, but I am a proud individual, who is building a business from the ground up. I WILL be successful. Every day I try to be the best.

I feel that your reply suggested the idea of helping a young person was a failing proposal that would lead to him being broke and losing the farm forever.

Although farming does take tremendous risk, the owners could easily try to rent the farm and equipment on a one-year lease – just on a trial basis – to this young man and go from there. There are many banks that are very accommodating to a young person who wants to run a business today.

I agree that selling the house and the equipment at the same time to this individual makes a lot of unnecessary risk. I just ask that you reconsider how you worded your recommendation, because I took it that you felt leasing farm ground to an established farmer was the only truly safe alternative.

I am blessed to have had the opportunity to farm, and I would hate to see this young man potentially miss his only chance to farm. The success he may have must also be considered.

How else can new, young farmers without family land of their own get started in agriculture?


T.T. certainly has our admiration and hope for his continued success. People like him built America and continue to expand the opportunity it represents.

I didn't intend to imply that helping a young farmer get started was a bad idea. My primary point was that the older couple take care to manage their own security before taking risks on someone else.

Once they've done that, choosing to help a new farmer may be based more on personal values than on financial considerations.

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