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Q&A: National Young Farmers Coalition and the importance of transitional farming


The National Young Farmers Coalition (Young Farmers) works to shift power and equitably resource the next generation of working farmers, particularly farmers of color, by uplifting their stories and needs into policy.

In support of Young Farmers and their network of farmers, Kellogg Company and fellow Michigan-based retailer Meijer have announced a joint investment to ensure a strong pipeline as farming transitions into the hands of young farmers.

We sat down with Payge Lindow, Michigan Organizer for Young Farmers, to learn more about the issues facing young farmers, the work they are doing to help them and how the organization will use funding from Kellogg and Meijer to support its initiatives.

If you’re interested in supporting the next generation of working farmers in Michigan, text YF MI to 40649 and join the National Young Farmers Coalition’s advocacy network.

Q. What are the biggest challenges facing young farmers today, particularly farmers of color?

PL: Land access is the number one challenge for them. Access to credit has also historically been a major roadblock and a source of discrimination for young farmers of color.

The average age of the farmer in the U.S. is hovering around 60 years of age, which means many of them are on a fast track to retirement. There’s an urgent need for young farmers to ensure an intact food system for our future. For example, the national average of Black farmers is 2% and just 0.4% in Michigan.

Many young farmers do not come from farming families, which means they don’t automatically transition to farmland that’s turnkey and ready for them. There are also folks who want to start an urban farm, but don’t have a community of people to connect with for support and end up failing as a business.

Q: How is Young Farmers helping farmers?

PL: We provide policy advocacy training for farmers, support farmers in telling their stories to media and created National Land Advocacy Fellowship. Our Land Advocacy Fellows are a group of farmers, including 25 Midwestern farmers – five from Michigan – who meet once a month to stay connected, receive leadership and advocacy training, share resources and act as one, unified voice when discussing issues with policymakers. There’s also a Young Farmer Fly-in to Washington, D.C., so they can meet other farmers and politicians. It’s a two-year program we launched in March 2022. We accepted applications from across the country and then selected 100 majority BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) farmers whose stories were the most impactful.

Q: How important is helping our young farmers be successful from a sustainable farming standpoint?

PL: Climate change is a huge part of all this. This generation of young farmers recognizes the responsibility they have for climate action and a future with thriving ecosystems. They’re working to help build climate resilience and ensure the future of their farms.

They also advocate for policies that support a shift to sustainable farming practices that can nurture the planet – 86% of farmers in our network are engaged in sustainable or regenerative practices. They don’t need to be talked into sustainable farming. But one flood or natural disaster can destroy all their progress.

It’s challenging to implement sustainable farming practices when you aren’t sure if you’ll be able to get or keep land.

Q. How will funding from Kellogg and Meijer be used to help young and BIPOC farmers in the Midwest?

PL: It will help cover honorariums for 12 Midwest farmers who participate in the Land Advocacy Fellowship and provide travel for the fellows to participate in our Regional Convergence and our 2023 Young Farmer Fly-in. It will also allow us to organize other farmers around our policy campaigns, such as climate, immigration and economic justice. There will also be online and in-store consumer communications to raise awareness.

We sincerely thank Kellogg and Meijer for their support. By investing in young farmer leaders and supporting their advocacy, Kellogg and Meijer can help shape the future of farming in the Midwest for generations to come.

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