ED­I­TOR’S LET­TER

Farm & Ranch Living - - NEWS -

IN THIS MONTH’S IS­SUE, you’ll meet An­drew Barsness, the young farmer on our cover who didn’t grow up on a farm but is mak­ing a go of it in Min­ne­sota. Like any grain farmer, he bat­tles bro­ken equip­ment, mishaps (com­bine fires!) and ever-chang­ing crop prices. And last year he bat­tled the weather: A hard frost dam­aged two-thirds of his soy­beans be­fore he could get them har­vested. Who but a farmer could take a hit like that, chalk it up to bad luck and keep go­ing? Not many, I’d guess.

For all who care about farm­ing’s fu­ture, the sta­tis­tics on young farm­ers are cause for con­cern. Ac­cord­ing to the USDA Cen­sus of Agri­cul­ture, the num­ber of farm­ers un­der the age of 45 dropped 26 per­cent be­tween 2002 and 2012. Data from the most re­cent cen­sus, taken in 2017, starts rolling out next year; I’m anx­ious to learn where things stand now.

This is­sue may pro­vide a clue. On page 34, pop­corn farmer Pat Green in­tro­duces read­ers to his grand­daugh­ter Emily, who at age 9 al­ready knows she wants to have the same ca­reer as her grandpa. On page 21, 14-year-old Kaitlin Fehr writes of her pas­sion for grow­ing and pre­serv­ing her own food. Kaitlin and Emily, like An­drew, defy the sta­tis­tics. “I farm be­cause it’s the only path I’ve ever truly been pas­sion­ate about,” An­drew writes in his farm di­ary, which be­gins on page 25.

The op­ti­mism of these young folks is in­spir­ing to those of us who won­der if we could muster the courage to pull the planter out of the barn af­ter a ma­jor loss and try again. And as some­one who likes to eat food and wear cloth­ing, I’m grate­ful to the young farm­ers and ranch­ers will­ing to work and plan be­yond the bad years. Here’s to them.

Ed­i­tor Jen­nifer Zei­gler

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