Planting Seeds - Food & Farming News from CDFA

News Release – California State Board of Food and Agriculture to Discuss Opportunities for New Farmers and Ranchers at Next Meeting

The California Department of Food and Agriculture will discuss opportunities for beginning farmers and ranchers at its upcoming meeting on June 4th in Sacramento. The meeting is scheduled from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the California Department of Food and Agriculture, 1220 N Street – Main Auditorium, Sacramento, CA 95814.

California is home to a number of non-profit programs aimed at developing the next generation of farmers and ranchers. From returning veterans to aspiring farm workers and even consumers looking for new career opportunities – programs are in place to encourage the first steps in entering a farming career. The upcoming meeting is an opportunity for recent graduates of farm training programs to discuss their experiences with the board and offer suggestions to encourage more individuals to become farmers.

Farm demographics are changing across California and the nation – fewer individuals are becoming farmers and the average age of farmers continues to rise. Over the last two decades, the number of beginning farms and ranches has declined in the United States and, currently, only 26 percent of principal farm operators have less than 10 years experience in farming – the lowest level since 1982. The average farmer in California is 58 years old, and the percentage of farmers over the age of 75 (nationally) is increasing faster than the percentage of farmers 25 and under. In 2012, California had approximately 80,500 farms – a decrease of 1,000 farms from the previous year.

Invited speakers include: Nathan Harkleroad of the Agriculture and Land-Based Training Association (ALBA) and recent graduates of the program; Mary Kimball and Jennifer Taylor of California Farm Academy and recent graduates of that program; Michael Wells, Undersecretary, California Department of Veterans Affairs; Michael O’Gorman, Farmer Veteran Coalition; Josiah Mayfield, California FFA and current/past state FFA Officers.

The California State Board of Food and Agriculture advises the governor and the CDFA secretary on agricultural issues and consumer needs. The state board conducts forums that bring together local, state and federal government officials, agricultural representative and citizens to discuss current issues of concern to California agriculture.

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