According to the latest agricultural census – out in 2012, the number of farmers and ranchers leaving their land weekly has jumped from 330 a week to an astonishing 1,836; a 550% increase!
In 2009, to help address the growing severity of farm/ranch loss in the U.S., HMI began our Beginning Farmers & Ranchers Women in the Northeast Program in six northeastern states; New York, New Hampshire, Vermont, Maine Massachusetts, and Connecticut. Texas was added to the program in 2012. The program is designed to train new farmers – the most vulnerable to failure, in the Holistic Management Whole Farm/Ranch Planning System, which helps families integrate economic, social, and ecological factors into their management decisions, while improving land health and water quality on farms, strengthening healthy, safe food production, and building a community of farmers and ranchers that are sustainable, successful, and profitable.
We are happy to report that in 2012, the states participating in the Beginning Women Farmer program saw a combined increase of 6,916 farmers and ranchers.
The news is not that good elsewhere, with states like Illinois, Iowa, and California experiencing a huge loss in the number of farms and ranches. These new numbers make it clear that more needs to be done to stem the exodus that has continued in farming and ranching communities across the country.