Our View: Future farmers
by By John Charles Robbins
From father to son, from father to daughter, from parents to children, the rich history of a farming family often reaches way back, and has deep roots.
But the face of agriculture has changed so much in the last few decades; the small farmer a disappearing icon.
It’s gotten harder to be a farmer, and finding offspring willing and able to keep the tractors and combine running is more of a challenge than ever.
Meanwhile, the aging population of farmland owners continues to rise.
According to U.S. Census figures released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, in 2007 the average age of American farmers was 58 years old.
Those knowledgeable about agriculture in America see farmland preservation as an imperative mission, and we have to agree. Putting food on our tables is essential and is too often taken for granted in this day and age when supermarkets offer a bounty of seemingly endless food products.
For various reasons — development of rural land just one — many areas across the country that once boasted thousands of acres of rich farmland are seeing the fields slowly disappearing.
North Carolina in general is experiencing great loss of farmland because of population increase, and those with farming expertise know now is the time to figure out how to support farmlands, and forests, so that they will benefit us in the future.
With all of this in mind, we want to draw your attention to an upcoming program designed to help owners of farmland.
The Richmond County Cooperative Extension will be offering one-on-one consultations, sponsored by the Lois G. Britt Agribusiness Center at Mt. Olive College and the USDA Risk Management Agency, to assist landowners in developing their own farm transition plan. The consultations will be held on Aug. 19 from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Call the Cooperative Extension Office to sign up for available times at 910-997-8255
These consultations are a follow-up to the Farmland Transition Estate Planning Workshops that were held last December, which helped inform aging farmland owners of how to plan for the future of their land.
As the aging population of farmland owners continues to rise, such informative workshops and consultations are imperative to ensure the responsible and proper handling of their land in the future.
The Aug. 19 consultations are free and will be led by attorney Andrew Branan of The Branan Law Firm in Hillsboro, whose law expertise is in land assets, farm transition and estate planning. “Most know how they want their estate to be handled,” said Branan, “it’s just, some of the people are perplexed more by the process.”
With North Carolina holding steady as a top 10 agricultural producing state, the future of its forests and farmland is a hot topic.
According to Paige Burns, Assistant Horticulture Agent at the Richmond County Cooperative Extension, the goal of these information sessions is to help minimize the pressure put on non-developed farmland owners by preparing them with accurate legal information.
“We want to help farmers avoid any surprises,” said Burns.
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