Aging Farmers & Ranchers - KAUZ-TV: Newschannel 6 Now | Wichita Falls, TX

Aging Farmers & Ranchers

Farming and ranching is an industry that's literally getting older by the day. An agricultural census from 2007 showed 57,227 Texas farmers were 70 years and older. Those younger than 25 consist of less than a thousand. The future of attracting young people to the farming business is looking bleak.

"You're going to have to inherit it, marry it, or be the working son of a gun in the county," said Farmer Fred Dwyer.

As a farmer that's been in the business for years he understands the hardships of being a farmer.

"I've been through it all. We went years without a crop," he said.

Last year was not good; with no rain to grow his wheat he had a poor crop and he was forced to sell his cattle. His hours of labor did little to mend the problem.

"Few people will work and stay up the hours its takes to make a living."

That's one of the reason he believes fewer young people are getting involved in the industry. A trend seen out in the land and in the classroom. Gary Cunningham an instructor for Rider High School said most of his students want to work in the agriculture business, but not as a farmer
or rancher.

"The amount of money required to get into it is so expensive you nearly have to inherit it," said Cunningham.

The tell Newschannel 6 land is much more expensive than it was years ago, making farming and ranching as a start up business nearly impossible.

"Hope is what agriculture lives on," said Dwyer.

A concern from the lack of younger farmers getting into the industry is dependence on foreign food. Texas Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples said attracting young people to the business is vital.

Rider Ag Instructor Gary Cunningham said the FFA (Future Farmers of America) has expanded over the last several years. He says when people often think about Ag industry they think stock shows, but he says it's much more than it. It now involves veterinarian and timber courses.

 

Crystal Hall Newschannel 6.

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