Dairy’s future will depend on its next generation of farmers, many of whom are already hard at work on farms across the country. Young farmers are an important part of the agricultural landscape, and their continued involvement and leadership is needed to preserve a bright future for our dairy cooperatives. Ensuring these farmers can sustain their livelihoods is critical to the future of the dairy industry.
The average age of all U.S. farm producers in 2017 was over 57 years, continuing a long-term trend of aging in the U.S. producer population, according the U.S. Department of Agriculture. That’s in part because younger farmers face unique challenges, said Paul and Nancy Pyle, owners of a 150-cow dairy in Zeeland, Michigan. They’re members of the Michigan Milk Producers Association and chairs of the National Milk Producer Federation’s Young Cooperators Program. They work hard to ensure their milk is wholesome and responsibly-produced, but “it doesn’t matter how good your product is. If you can’t make money selling it, there’s a problem,” Nancy said.
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