Young Oregon Farmers Face Barriers To Starting Farm Businesses | KUOW News and Information

Young Oregon Farmers Face Barriers To Starting Farm Businesses

Sep 28, 2016

A new report shows that it’s increasingly difficult for young people to get into farming in Oregon.

The study shows that the average farmer in Oregon is 60 years old — that’s the oldest average age for farmers in state history. The report also shows that Oregon land prices are a major hurdle for young people who want to farm.

"A high price of land means that a farmer has an almost insurmountable barrier to buying into a farm business," said Nellie McAdams, program director with Rogue Farm Corps, one of the co-authors of the report.

On top of the cost of land, McAdams pointed out that starting a farm requires other capital investments in things like tractors, fuel and seed.

"And then once you’re in, you have a tremendous amount of debt," McAdams said. "With fluctuation in farm prices it’s really uncertain whether you’re going to be able to pay off that debt."

The study also notes that about 100,000 acres of Oregon farmland have been removed from agricultural production since 1974. It shows that up to 40 percent of recently sold farm businesses in four Oregon counties were sold to out-of-state investment businesses.

The report was also co-authored by Oregon State University and Portland State University.

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