Farmfest highlights young farmers

Ryan Batalden stands in his wheat field.
Ryan Batalden stands in his wheat field, not far from where he has recently planted fruit trees. About 12 years ago, he left the office job and went to work on his parent's farm and looked for opportunities to start his own.
Mark Steil / MPR News

Farmfest is underway this week near Redwood Falls in southern Minnesota. The annual agricultural showcase includes the usual political forums and a look at the newest farm equipment.

But this year it also put a focus on young farmers - with a day dedicated to those looking to get into farming or early on in their farming career. Getting started farming is hard these days - and the average age of Minnesota farmers, 56.6 in 2012, continues to rise.

On The Daily Circuit, we look at the barriers facing people who want to get into farming, and the programs in Minnesota to support and recruit new farmers.

One of those organizations is Minneapolis-based Land Stewardship Project. More from MPR News:

It helps evaluate and instruct young farmers on what they need to do to get started, said Karen Stettler, who oversees the organization's Farm Beginnings program.

"The Farm Beginnings program really helps people to think about their deeply held values and beliefs, put that into a goal, and then to also make sure to follow that goal up with helping them to assess finances and marketing strategies," she said.

In the past 17 years about 600 people have gone through the program, and about 60 percent are still farming, Stettler said.

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