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Economist challenges idea of aging farmer crisis

November 30, 2013 • Business


In this Nov. 21, 2013 photo, Earl Hafner talks about growing vegetables in his aquaponics greenhouse on his farm, near Panora, Iowa. Programs have been set up in many states to connect young farmers who want to get into agriculture with aging farmers to promote transition planning. Hafner is passing his 2,000-acre Early Morning Harvest farm to his 45-year-old son, Jeff. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Agriculture economists have long warned that farmers are getting old and staying on their land longer, delaying the turnover to a younger generation. But an Ohio State University professor argues that those fears are overstated and the United States likely will have little problem replacing aging farmers as long as business is good, as it has been for the past decade.

Others aren’t so sure, saying while they agree with OSU agriculture economist Carl Zulauf’s assessment that concerns about the unquestionably aging farmer population remain valid and create uncertainty about who will produce the nation’s crops in the future.

“I think what he said is absolutely right,” Iowa State University economics professor Mike Duffy said. “I think the conclusion he’s drawing though is not necessarily the correct one.”

Zulauf contends that just like in the 1970s, farm prosperity will draw more young workers into farming. And prosperous the business is: This year, net Login to read more

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