Rising land values create barriers for new farmers

Midwest

Farmland is seen in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, on November 8, 2022. (Photo by Branden EASTWOOD / AFP) (Photo by BRANDEN EASTWOOD/AFP via Getty Images)

(NewsNation) — Young farmers are being priced out of their dreams as land values soar.

A combination of factors including high commodity prices and interest rates that, until recently, were low led to an increase in the price of farmland across the country. As a result, young and beginning farmers are competing with real estate investors and large companies for land.

Nationally, the average price for cropland hit $5,050 an acre, up from $2,760 in 2008. If there’s a bidding war for land, it can get much more expensive, with one farm in Nebraska hitting a record high of $27,400 per acre.

In addition to being outbid by other farmers, hopeful buyers are also competing with real estate firms that may develop land or rent it out.

Roughly 39% of farms in the U.S. are rented, leaving farmers in a vulnerable spot if the owner decides to sell.

The average age for farmers is 57 years old, and a lack of young people going into farming has long been a concern of the agriculture industry.

Access to land is one of the top barriers faced by beginning farmers, who are essential for building a sustainable food system.

The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the fragility of global supply chains, and and at least one study found local food systems were better able to respond to the challenges posed by the pandemic.

Lawmakers in Congress have raised concerns over the future of agriculture if young people continue to face barriers to get into farming. The 2023 Farm Bill is expected to include some provisions to make it easier for young farmers to get loans.

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