TIME Diet/Nutrition

The Government Wants Young Farmers To Hit the Hay (Literally)

US-IT-FARMING
Andrew Isaacson watches from the cockpit of a tractor in a corn field as screens show where he has fertilized at the Little Bohemia Creek farm on June 17, 2014 in Warwick, Md. Brendan Smialowski—AFP/Getty Images

Intended as a ‘one-stop-shop’ for beginning farmers, it promises the full range of financial and technical support

The USDA has launched a New Farmers website targeted at young people struggling to get their start in the agriculture industry.

The site brings together in one place a number of programs already available to newcomers: It can help young farmers get off the ground with a variety of loans from the Farm Service Agency, which often provides critical resources to those who are unable to get help from traditional lenders. It provides crop insurance for a fruits, vegetables and grains. And through the Transition Incentive Program, it can facilitate transfer of farmland from retiring farmers to new and socially disadvantaged farmers and vets.

What’s more: Aspiring organic farmers can find help with the cost of certification—which is especially relevant, as organic farmers are younger on average, and the market for organic foods shows no signs of slowing. They can also get help with land conservation and soil health.

As the American farm population ages out (the average is now 58), it is increasingly critical that a new generation is in place to produce our food. “We must help new farmers get started if America is going to continue feeding the world and maintain a strong agriculture economy,” said U.S. Agriculture Deputy Secretary Krysta Harden in the announcement.

If the site proves useful to those getting their start, it just might help launch the next fleet of farmers.

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