Farming is Cool Again to Millennials

BY Courtney Huckabay

"For only the second time in the last century, the number of farmers under 35 years old is increasing, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's latest Census of Agriculture. Sixty-​nine percent of the surveyed young farmers had college degrees — significantly higher than the general population," the Associated Press reports.

"Many young Americans are joining a growing movement of highly educated, ex-​urban, first-​time farmers who are capitalizing on booming consumer demand for local and sustainable foods and who, experts say, could have a broad impact on the food system."

In fact, the new AudienceSCAN survey revealed 36% of current Farmers/​Ranchers are aged 25–34!

"This new generation can't hope to replace the numbers that farming is losing to age. But it is already contributing to the growth of the local-​food movement and could help preserve the place of midsize farms in the rural landscape."

"We're going to see a sea change in American agriculture as the next generation gets on the land," said Kathleen Merrigan, the head of the Food Institute at George Washington University and a deputy secretary at the Department of Agriculture under President Barack Obama. "The only question is whether they'll get on the land, given the challenges."

"The number of farmers aged 25 to 34 grew 2.2 percent between 2007 and 2012, according to the 2014 USDA census, a period when other groups of farmers — save the oldest — shrank by double digits. In some states, such as California, Nebraska and South Dakota, the number of beginning farmers has grown by 20 percent or more."

Farm supply stores and agricultural equipment dealers can reach these young farmers through sponsored search results (like on Google, Yahoo or Bing). According to the latest AudienceSCAN research, 40% of Farmers/​Ranchers took action based on search ads in the past month.

"A survey that the National Young Farmers Coalition, an advocacy group, conducted with Merrigan's help shows that the majority of young farmers did not grow up in agricultural families."

"They are also far more likely than the general farming population to grow organically, limit pesticide and fertilizer use, diversify their crops or animals, and be deeply involved in their local food systems via community-​supported agriculture programs and farmers markets."

This is true for their own personal purchasing habits as well. The new AudienceSCAN survey reported 24% of Farmers/​Ranchers are willing to pay more for healthy or organic food products.

"Today's young farmers also tend to operate small farms of less than 50 acres, though that number increases with each successive year of experience. However, young farmers face formidable challenges to starting and scaling their businesses. The costs of farmland and farm equipment are prohibitive. Young farmers are frequently dependent on government programs, including child-​care subsidies and public health insurance, to cover basic needs."

AudienceSCAN data is available as part of a subscription to AdMall for Agencies, or with the SalesFuel API. Media companies can access AudienceSCAN data through the AudienceSCAN Reports in AdMall.