U. S. Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Kathleen Merrigan visited New Mexico recently to encourage students to think about careers in agriculture.
New Mexico has the nation’s highest average age for farmers and ranchers, at nearly 60, and the rest of the country looks similar. Among farmers and ranchers, the over- 65 crowd is the fastest growing group, says the U.S. Census.
The USDA has programs to help young farmers and ranchers, but the New Mexico Farm and Livestock Bureau has said the red tape is a barrier. The National Young Farmers’ Coalition is pushing for training, access to financing and credit, student loan forgiveness for new farmers, and tax breaks for selling land to young farmers.