Ranks of youngest farmers plunge | TSLN.com

Ranks of youngest farmers plunge

Marcia Zarley Taylor

DTN photo by Marcia Zarley TaylorThe number of young farmers like North Dakota's Josh Hardie and his wife, Sarah, slipped 30 percent in the last Census of Agriculture. Operators older than 65 outnumbered them 15 to 1.

FAIRMOUNT, ND (DTN) – Josh Hardie may be Richland County, ND’s version of the new All-American farmer: The now 27-year-old bought his first 110-acre property before some city kids earn their drivers’ licenses.

Barely a decade later, he runs his own 1,200-acre corn and soybean farm that straddles state borders into Minnesota and South Dakota. To cut start-up costs, he and his father share equipment ownership, including state-of-the-art combines and a new 36-row planter with computer-controlled SWATH technology.

Hardie met his bride, Sarah, online at e-Harmony, and taught the Texas beauty to chisel plow their first year of marriage. Such is romance for agriculture’s Internet generation.

Surrounded by 10,000-acre farmers who “are extremely good at what they do on all their acres,” Hardie knows he must continue to expand to compete. “I think you can make a living on a couple of thousand acres of corn and soybeans, but if you want your son to farm someday, you have to keep growing.”

The problem is, youngsters like Hardie are a rare breed in production agriculture today. Operators of America’s farms are becoming grayer and more likely to network with the Social Security Administration than Facebook.

Between 2002 and 2007 – the last Census of Agriculture – the number of primary farm operators under 25 years old fell by about 30 percent. Meanwhile, the number of elderly farmers over 75 ballooned by about 20 percent.

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FAIRMOUNT, ND (DTN) – Josh Hardie may be Richland County, ND’s version of the new All-American farmer: The now 27-year-old bought his first 110-acre property before some city kids earn their drivers’ licenses.

Barely a decade later, he runs his own 1,200-acre corn and soybean farm that straddles state borders into Minnesota and South Dakota. To cut start-up costs, he and his father share equipment ownership, including state-of-the-art combines and a new 36-row planter with computer-controlled SWATH technology.

Hardie met his bride, Sarah, online at e-Harmony, and taught the Texas beauty to chisel plow their first year of marriage. Such is romance for agriculture’s Internet generation.

Surrounded by 10,000-acre farmers who “are extremely good at what they do on all their acres,” Hardie knows he must continue to expand to compete. “I think you can make a living on a couple of thousand acres of corn and soybeans, but if you want your son to farm someday, you have to keep growing.”

The problem is, youngsters like Hardie are a rare breed in production agriculture today. Operators of America’s farms are becoming grayer and more likely to network with the Social Security Administration than Facebook.

Between 2002 and 2007 – the last Census of Agriculture – the number of primary farm operators under 25 years old fell by about 30 percent. Meanwhile, the number of elderly farmers over 75 ballooned by about 20 percent.

FAIRMOUNT, ND (DTN) – Josh Hardie may be Richland County, ND’s version of the new All-American farmer: The now 27-year-old bought his first 110-acre property before some city kids earn their drivers’ licenses.

Barely a decade later, he runs his own 1,200-acre corn and soybean farm that straddles state borders into Minnesota and South Dakota. To cut start-up costs, he and his father share equipment ownership, including state-of-the-art combines and a new 36-row planter with computer-controlled SWATH technology.

Hardie met his bride, Sarah, online at e-Harmony, and taught the Texas beauty to chisel plow their first year of marriage. Such is romance for agriculture’s Internet generation.

Surrounded by 10,000-acre farmers who “are extremely good at what they do on all their acres,” Hardie knows he must continue to expand to compete. “I think you can make a living on a couple of thousand acres of corn and soybeans, but if you want your son to farm someday, you have to keep growing.”

The problem is, youngsters like Hardie are a rare breed in production agriculture today. Operators of America’s farms are becoming grayer and more likely to network with the Social Security Administration than Facebook.

Between 2002 and 2007 – the last Census of Agriculture – the number of primary farm operators under 25 years old fell by about 30 percent. Meanwhile, the number of elderly farmers over 75 ballooned by about 20 percent.

FAIRMOUNT, ND (DTN) – Josh Hardie may be Richland County, ND’s version of the new All-American farmer: The now 27-year-old bought his first 110-acre property before some city kids earn their drivers’ licenses.

Barely a decade later, he runs his own 1,200-acre corn and soybean farm that straddles state borders into Minnesota and South Dakota. To cut start-up costs, he and his father share equipment ownership, including state-of-the-art combines and a new 36-row planter with computer-controlled SWATH technology.

Hardie met his bride, Sarah, online at e-Harmony, and taught the Texas beauty to chisel plow their first year of marriage. Such is romance for agriculture’s Internet generation.

Surrounded by 10,000-acre farmers who “are extremely good at what they do on all their acres,” Hardie knows he must continue to expand to compete. “I think you can make a living on a couple of thousand acres of corn and soybeans, but if you want your son to farm someday, you have to keep growing.”

The problem is, youngsters like Hardie are a rare breed in production agriculture today. Operators of America’s farms are becoming grayer and more likely to network with the Social Security Administration than Facebook.

Between 2002 and 2007 – the last Census of Agriculture – the number of primary farm operators under 25 years old fell by about 30 percent. Meanwhile, the number of elderly farmers over 75 ballooned by about 20 percent.