The rise of the organic farmer

According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), organic farming “produces products using methods that preserve the environment and avoid most synthetic materials, such as pesticides and antibiotics.”  The industry touts natural foods, using natural products, giving customers a sense of, well, nature in their foods as opposed to preservatives, additives and GMOs.

And Americans are loving it. Organic food is now a massive $35.1 billion per year industry — and that number is only expected to grow, along with the farmers that grow the food themselves.

In a report from the LA Times, the 25–34 age group of farmers is growing in popularity, and it all has to do with the organic movement.

“Many new farmers are motivated primarily by the desire to show that mainstream methods aren’t the only way to grow food,” the article said, and farmers echo those same sentiments.

“The earth is in a pretty dramatic state,” said Chris Velez, a farmer from Auberry, California. “It’s truly calling for people to come tend the land in a healthy way.”

In 2012, the average age of the Californian farmer was aging, reaching 57.9. Most of this number is skewed by the vast number of farmers in the 65–74, and 75+ age groups, at 39,428 farmers. This is very minimally rivaled by the 25–34 age group, which has fewer than 6,400 farmers in California.

Despite the small number, their number is one the rise, whereas farmers ages 35–64 are on the decline.

The group has found their niche market in organic farming, and this is exactly what agriculture officials in California are happy to see. As the average age of the farmer rises, officials hope that more “heed the call to till the land.”

Twenty percent of organic farms in the United States are based in California, which expanded about 1 million acres from 1990.

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