It’s from an opinion page with, well, a pretty discernible opinion. But this is encouraging.
Some 4,000 new small farms have been created since 2002. These are very small farms, 9 acres or less, and they are producing a much wider array of crops than the rest of Iowa, which specializes in corn and soybeans.
I’d like to hear more about this before celebrating, but this seems like an encouraging sign.
The editorial references another dynamic I’ve noticed right here in the farms of mid-Missouri.
These are interesting numbers — 4,000 Iowa farms under 9 acres and about 1,500 with 2,000 acres or more. Still more interesting is the age differential. The average age of the “principal operator” on a farm has crept upward to 56 years old. But those small farms are being run by young farmers.
While still dominated by crusty, older-types who got wise to the move toward local food (instead of just feeding into Cargill, for example), there’s a very clear wave of energetic younger farmers trying a lot of new stuff. Many have left conventional jobs for the farm, and farm smaller plots. The older types saw the writing on the wall and adapted. The young’uns meld hippyish idealism with capitalistic practicality. I wonder how well they share the sandbox?