Benefactors lend beginners a hand | TSLN.com

Benefactors lend beginners a hand

Elizabeth Williams

DTN photo by Marcia Zarley TaylorAge may be 23-year-old Trent Whipf's biggest asset because he expects most of his cow-calf neighbors to retire within 10 years. But he still needs outside help to acquire the capital to ranch.

INDIANOLA, IA (DTN) – Trent Whipf, 23, studied electrical technology and design in college, but nothing in the routine 8-to-5 work world appealed to him like the thrill of the cow-calf business.

This spring, the seasonal farmhand helped a rancher deliver 350 calves plus 15 or 20 on his own.

“I loved working early mornings and all night,” Whipf said. “Every day you see the miracle of life happen. It’s got to be in your blood.”

Born into a Doland, SD farm and ranching family with modest means, Whipf knows he needs to break out on his own soon if he hopes to build a stake in the cattle business. Without capital, credit history, collateral or a partner, his prospects look dim.

“Anyone who’s applied for a decent credit card knows the problem,” Whipf said.

Beginners can overcome the odds, but attrition among the least experienced operators is high. The recently released Census of Agriculture counted 20 percent fewer farm operators under 45 years old in 2007 than in 2002. Younger operators suffered the sharpest drop, with the population of farmers under 25 shrinking by 30 percent during the five-year period.

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What’s missing in many cases is a strong support network to provide both financial backing and mentoring during the start-up years.

In the past, farm-raised sons or daughters were simply brought into the family operation. But today, many farm operations don’t have or cannot support offspring returning to the farm, explained Mike Heavrin with the Center for Rural Affairs in Lyons, NE.

“Many young farmers who want to farm do not have family resources,” he said.

It takes a little luck, a lot of determination, good communication skills, hard work, the right connections and a lot of patience, but there are some young farmers getting their foot in the door of production agriculture.

INDIANOLA, IA (DTN) – Trent Whipf, 23, studied electrical technology and design in college, but nothing in the routine 8-to-5 work world appealed to him like the thrill of the cow-calf business.

This spring, the seasonal farmhand helped a rancher deliver 350 calves plus 15 or 20 on his own.

“I loved working early mornings and all night,” Whipf said. “Every day you see the miracle of life happen. It’s got to be in your blood.”

Born into a Doland, SD farm and ranching family with modest means, Whipf knows he needs to break out on his own soon if he hopes to build a stake in the cattle business. Without capital, credit history, collateral or a partner, his prospects look dim.

“Anyone who’s applied for a decent credit card knows the problem,” Whipf said.

Beginners can overcome the odds, but attrition among the least experienced operators is high. The recently released Census of Agriculture counted 20 percent fewer farm operators under 45 years old in 2007 than in 2002. Younger operators suffered the sharpest drop, with the population of farmers under 25 shrinking by 30 percent during the five-year period.

What’s missing in many cases is a strong support network to provide both financial backing and mentoring during the start-up years.

In the past, farm-raised sons or daughters were simply brought into the family operation. But today, many farm operations don’t have or cannot support offspring returning to the farm, explained Mike Heavrin with the Center for Rural Affairs in Lyons, NE.

“Many young farmers who want to farm do not have family resources,” he said.

It takes a little luck, a lot of determination, good communication skills, hard work, the right connections and a lot of patience, but there are some young farmers getting their foot in the door of production agriculture.

INDIANOLA, IA (DTN) – Trent Whipf, 23, studied electrical technology and design in college, but nothing in the routine 8-to-5 work world appealed to him like the thrill of the cow-calf business.

This spring, the seasonal farmhand helped a rancher deliver 350 calves plus 15 or 20 on his own.

“I loved working early mornings and all night,” Whipf said. “Every day you see the miracle of life happen. It’s got to be in your blood.”

Born into a Doland, SD farm and ranching family with modest means, Whipf knows he needs to break out on his own soon if he hopes to build a stake in the cattle business. Without capital, credit history, collateral or a partner, his prospects look dim.

“Anyone who’s applied for a decent credit card knows the problem,” Whipf said.

Beginners can overcome the odds, but attrition among the least experienced operators is high. The recently released Census of Agriculture counted 20 percent fewer farm operators under 45 years old in 2007 than in 2002. Younger operators suffered the sharpest drop, with the population of farmers under 25 shrinking by 30 percent during the five-year period.

What’s missing in many cases is a strong support network to provide both financial backing and mentoring during the start-up years.

In the past, farm-raised sons or daughters were simply brought into the family operation. But today, many farm operations don’t have or cannot support offspring returning to the farm, explained Mike Heavrin with the Center for Rural Affairs in Lyons, NE.

“Many young farmers who want to farm do not have family resources,” he said.

It takes a little luck, a lot of determination, good communication skills, hard work, the right connections and a lot of patience, but there are some young farmers getting their foot in the door of production agriculture.