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(Article Summarized by Meridian Institute) The U.S. Department of Agriculture is close to wrapping up its 2017 Census and farm groups say they are waiting on information about the average age of farmers, among other things. Conducted every five years, the county-level census looks at the age of farmers, what’s grown where and what practices farmers are adopting. A surge of young farmers, this article suggests, would be a promising sign for farmland preservation and conservation programs, which young farmers tend to support. Five years ago, the census showed that the number of young farmers, particularly in the Northeast, was increasing. "One time is nice, but does not a trend make," said Andrew Bahrenburg, the national policy director for the National Young Farmers Coalition. "We really hope that's something that's reflected in the new census.” Adds Juli Obudzinski, the deputy policy director at the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, "The next census will give us much richer and hopefully more in-depth information on the role of beginning farmers and women in agriculture and how they contribute to existing operations.” NSAC, said Paul Wolfe, a senior policy specialist with the group, will also keep an eye on farming practices, particularly whether there has been any change in the use of cover cropping by farmers. Farm groups, this article notes, use the census as a key tool in guiding which programs they advocate, as well as identifying problems that need the attention of Congress and policymakers. Farmers are required by law to respond to the census.

Posted January 11th, 2018
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