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Who are Northeast New Farmers?

 

There are many people who have started or hope to farm in the Northeast. These new farmers have a passion for farming. Despite the formidable challenges, with sufficient help and support they will succeed, bringing new vitality to our region's farming industry, contributing to local economies, and keeping our agricultural resource base productive.

In the Northeast, as nationally, there are twice as many farmers over the age of sixty-five as under 35. Over 400 million acres of farmland will change hands in the next twenty years. Traditional methods of learning to farm and acquiring the necessary resources are no longer sufficient to insure a new generation of farm operators.

Who are Northeast new farmers?

They come from all backgrounds, are in all stages of development, and bring a wide range of resources and talents. From data gathered from new farmer focus groups held in the region and other sources, we know that:

  • Most Northeast new farmers are young, although some are older, "mid-life career changers"
  • More and more new farmers are coming from non-farm backgrounds - they did not grow up on farms. Some are from farming families; they may be the next generation on an established family farm, or may move onto a different farm
  • In our region, new farmers are ethnically and culturally diverse; there are new farmers of Asian and Hispanic origin, but few African-American new farmers
  • Northeast new farmers are interested in a very wide range of farming enterprise types, crops, production and marketing strategies
  • Many new farmers will start out farming part-time, and some will continue part-time for a variety of reasons
  • New farmers who want to farm or have started to farm in the Northeast come from urban, suburban or rural backgrounds. They come from every Northeast state, and some come from outside our region, drawn to the Northeast for its markets, support for alternative agriculture and diversity of farming opportunities