Aging Agricultural Communities (Wyoming)

In the December 2014 edition of Rangelands, researchers explored demographic trends of farm and ranch operators concentrating on Wyoming.

Growing Produce summarized this project: “… the authors forecast a bleak farming future: no operators younger than 35 by 2033 and an average age of 60 by 2050. Even if their children and grandchildren show interest in agriculture, farmers often cannot afford to keep their land and equipment. They “retire” and sell — often to residential or commercial developers. The authors state that the trends in Wyoming are occurring throughout the U.S.”

Rangelands reported the project findings:

  • Census records indicate that Wyoming’s agricultural community is aging.
  • There are risks associated with loss of local knowledge, loss of tradition and loss of investment that stem from a deep-rooted sense of place.
  • Fundamental challenges exist to incentivize young agriculturalists to replace those in retirement age.
  • Solutions? Finding young farmers and ranchers might be accomplished through shifts in education, public policy, economic incentives, or through targeted cultivation of personal connections to the land.

Glick, Henry B. et al. Wyoming’s Aging Agricultural Landscape: Demographic Trends among Farm And Ranch Operators, 1920-2007. Rangelands. Volume 35. Issue 6. December 2014. Pages 7-14. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0190052814500922

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