The radio stories – which are airing every morning during Morning Edition — lead up the premier of the Harvest Public Media special “Changing Lands, Changing Hands”, which will air this Friday night at 8 p.m. on KCPT.
Harvest Public Media editor, Donna Vestal, will also appear on KCPT’s “The Local Show” on Thursday at 7 p.m. to discuss the series.
A pattern that’s emerged over recent decades is the rising age of farmers. The average farmer is 57 years old according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and a growing share are past retirement age. Although time is working against them, older farmers seem to be in no hurry to give it up the land.
Retirement can be a dirty word for farmers. But inevitably as they age, farmers can physically do less on their land. Sometimes, families anticipate the coming changes and plan for them. Often, transitions happen gradually … and in some unfortunate cases, change can be abrupt.
It’s not just lifelong farmers who feel the pull of the land as they get older. For some Americans, retirement is an opportunity to begin the farming dream.
A recent report from the Census Bureau says that from 2010 to 2012 — for the first time ever — the overall population in rural American counties declined. Because there are fewer people in rural areas, it expands the importance of each individual when it comes to civic life and commitments. Rural towns like Pittsfield, Ill. are also dealing with an aging population and what that means for the social fabric of the community.
While the farming community continues to age, fewer young people are filling the ranks. Do young people even want to farm anymore?
Be sure to tune in to KCPT at 8pm on Friday, July 13 for the conclusion on the series, the Harvest Public Media special, “Changing Lands, Changing Hands.”