A New Generation of Farmer

During our most recent class discussion, we spoke about the shifting age demographics of farming. The local food movement is allowing a younger age of farmer to make a large and immediate impact. The farming industry is not lacking interest from young people, but the dearth of young farmers has primarily come from the lack of opportunity to get into the industry. Unless farmland is inherited from a family member, the barriers to conventional farming are immense. Startup costs and land taxes often dissuade the younger generation from pursuing the profession. The local food movement has caused an increase in prices, but has subsequently attracted our generation. Rather than importing fruits and vegetables, which are often localized to certain regions of the world, America’s youth is trying to reclaim many agricultural products. This is arguably more labor intensive and expensive, but yields a sustainable food source in many cases. Young farmers in America face many structural obstacles including access to education, and business training. Furthermore, they need open minded consumers and new law implementation. Essentially, they forced to improvise in order to best serve the new marketplace. The documentary “Greenhorns” shows us many of the challenges and successes that our country’s youth faces. Another often unnoticed aspect of the changing farming environment is the de-masculinization of the profession. A recent New York Times Op-Ed by Olivier de Schutter entitled “The Feminization of Farming” exposes how gender stereotypes are being unraveled throughout the world. Socio-economic obstacles must still be removed in order to challenge the traditional gender roles that burden women with household duties and prevent them from burgeoning in the farming profession. This piece discusses how microfinance programs in developing countries such as Indonesia have recently been implemented to help women pursue small-business ideas instead of housework. Women and the youth face many of the same structural obstacles, and change may come in the form of legal revitalization the local food movement. Consumers should be able to get fresh and organic produce at nearly the same cost as mass-produced food, while supporting local businesses and reducing the carbon footprint. The trend and youth movement in farming has come with wider public recognition of the downside of industrial food production. Antibiotics used often protect against disease and boosts production and commercial output, but also build drug resistance that has long-term negative consequences toward people’s health. There are many issues at play if we are to curb the economic imbalances that create the structural difficulties for younger farmers and the local food movement. Anthropologist Pierre Bourdieu would most likely argue that pre-dispositions guide our country’s youth toward appropriate social positions and behaviors that are suitable for them. However, we are seeing the shift away from this paradigm, and if there is to be a successful transition into a new age of agricultural production and farming, we must eliminate the legislative obstacles that hinder socio-economic prosperity.

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