The National Young Farmers Coalition recently launched a campaign to provide student loan forgiveness to farmers. The campaign seeks to tell the stories of young farmers struggling to farm under the pressure of student loan debt.
Student loan debt is an enormous barrier to young people entering agriculture. Starting a farm is expensive and not profitable enough to both support a farm family and pay student loans.
Read their one-page summary of the problem HERE.
“With the average age of American farmers now 58 and on the rise, we must be doing everything possible to get more young people in agriculture,” said Lindsey Lusher Shute, NYFC’s Executive Director. “Offering young farmers relief from student loans would enable and incentivize thousands of young people to farm.”
Art Talmadge of Cranberry Hill Farm in Ashford, CT studied agriculture at the University of Connecticut and currently farms vegetables and pastured chicken on 30 acres. “If my wife didn’t have a full-time off farm job we would have to sell…I currently owe more when I started my farm and that continues to rise due to the accrued interest. My student loan debt is crushing us.”
NYFC is calling for the addition of farmers to the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program, which currently provides debt relief to doctors, teachers, government employees and non-profit workers. For enrollees who make 10 years of income-driven student loan payments, the balance of their federal loan debt will be forgiven. Not only will this help farmers get out from under debt that they are unable to repay, but it will provide an incentive for new farmers to enter careers in agriculture.
“Farmers are critical to our nation. They produce the food we eat, steward our land and support rural economies. Clearly,” Shute said, “Farming is a public service.”
Go to the NYFC WEBSITE to sign up for further updates, and, if you have been affected by student debt, to tell your story and help this campaign!
If you want to get involved contact Eric Hansen (firstname.lastname@example.org).