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Younger farmers needed to keep ag on track
After years of declining farm numbers, we've come to expect more of the same.
It was a pleasant surprise, then, when the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Census of Agriculture showed Nebraska bucking the national trend.
The report, released every five years, showed that the number of Nebraska farms increased 4.7 percent to 49,969 from 2007 to 2012.
The national ag census showed a 4 percent decline in the number of farms over that same period.
That was despite the fact that the amount of land being farmed fell about 148,000 acres, to 45.3 million.
That translated to the size of the average Nebraska farm falling from 953 acres to 907.
Fueling the increase in farm numbers was a boom in the market value of agricultural products, up 49 percent to just over $23 billion.
One thing that didn't improve -- but did maintain status -- was the age of the average farmer, 55.
That last number illustrates how important it is that young people be encouraged to get into agriculture, so that Americans have the plentiful supply of food and fiber they need.
Efforts like the "100 Cow, 100 Acre" program at the Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture are a step in the right direction.
The Curtis college's Ownership Advantage pograms help connect farm and ranch owners with beginning farmers or ranchers to see to it that this vital industry continues far into the future.