On “Food Talk with Dani Nierenberg,” Executive Director and co-founder of the National Young Farmers Coalition (NYFC) Lindsey Lusher Shute talks about the hurdles young farmers face—and the unique ways the general public should support them. Lindsey Lusher Shute started the National Young Farmers Coalition watching the farming field transform. “This incredible generation of young people had so much to bring to this space, but were not in an environment where there was really a viable path for them to succeed,” says Lindsey Lusher Shute. “It was just this idea that we have to work together to make it in the field. None of us can do this on our own.”
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While farmers assume risk starting their businesses, “for young farmers, there is a lot of risk. Many times they just never get to the point of becoming an old farmer because everything doesn’t quite add up,” says Lindsey Lusher Shute. Facing challenges like mounting student debt, Lindsey Lusher Shute notes that better policy can transform the young farmer experience. Representing the voices of farmers, NYFC enacted the Young Farmer Agenda, a platform to help Congress support young farmers in the 2018 Farm Bill.
Lindsey Lusher Shute covers farming policies, programs, and events shaping the future of agriculture on the Young Farmers podcast and is impressed with the new Farm Bill’s plans to fund young and beginning farmer training, set higher loan limits, and double funding for farmland conservation. “However, there are some emerging issues like student loans that impact farmers in a big way that are not addressed by the Farm Bill,” says Lindsey Lusher Shute. “But the states are proving to be a really supportive space to incubate ideas and innovation in farming and agriculture.”
In the future, NYFC wants to see farming recognized as a public service, not only because of the importance of the role, but also to include farmers in the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program, potentially easing student loans. “We all need young farmers desperately in this country,” says Lindsey Lusher Shute. “When we have young people take interest, we all have to be right there with them. Let’s help them do this and succeed.”