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Farmers Union salutes family farmers and ranchers on National Ag Day

WASHINGTON — Highlighting the important roles family farmers and ranchers play in ensuring food security, National Farmers Union joined the agriculture community today in celebrating National Ag Day.

“Family farmers and ranchers play a critical role in providing food, fuel, feed and fiber to both our country and the global population,” said NFU President Roger Johnson. “In order to ensure our food security for future generations, we need to be fostering the next generation of family farmers and ranchers today.”

The average age of the American farmer is 58 years old, and, according to the 2012 Ag Census, 57 percent of the nation’s farmers are within 10 years of retirement age or older. The good news is that the number of young people who said farming was their primary occupation increased by 11 percent between 2007 and 2012.

“The influx of new farmers is a welcome sign in an occupation as critical as food, feed and fuel production,” said Johnson. “Now we need to keep the momentum up by encouraging more new family farmers and ranchers, and providing them with the tools they need to succeed in today’s fast-paced business environment.”

New farmers and ranchers who entered the industry in the past five to ten years have had to deal with the worst farm economy in well over a decade. In fact, net farm income this year is projected to be less than half of what it was just four short years ago.

“While all of us in agriculture grapple with prolonged periods of low prices, it is beginning farmers and ranchers that are the most vulnerable during these periods,” said Johnson. “We need to be doing all we can as policymakers, mentors, neighbors and colleagues in family agriculture to ensure the success and economic well-being of the next generation of farmers and ranchers.”

Johnson noted that NFU provides a bevy of education programs designed to encourage and develop future leaders in American agriculture.

“NFU’s education programs focus on community engagement, leadership development and youth outreach,” said Johnson “Many of those who have participated have indeed gone on to be farmers, leaders in agriculture, key decision-makers in international food and aid organizations and even elected officials.”

For more information on NFU and its advocacy and education programs, visit NFU.org.

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