USDA gives huge grants to farmers

T he United States Department of Agriculture has awarded 36 grants totaling $18 million to organizations that will provide training and assistance to beginning farmers and ranchers to help them run sustainable farms.

W ith the average age of farmers rising and the number of rural populations declining U.S.D.A. Secretary Kathleen Merrigan says now is the time to motivate the next generation.

W ith the av e rage age climbing to almost 60 years old, Merrigan says the country needs more young farmers to continue what those before them have started.

"W e are facing a major challenge in transitioning the work force on a working land across this country, so in the 2008 farm bill congress have us a number of tools to help bring on the next generation of farmers and ranchers ."

B ut I spoke with one local farmer and rancher who thinks that this is a bad idea and that there are enough young farmers already out there.

"T here's no need for that, there's plenty of experience out here so much of what i've learned going through this, different ones around could teach you those things if you'd take the time to ask or learn from them ," said Gerald Detten. "I guess I look at that as being one of those situations that you'll get people interested for a little while, so as the money's gone so will they be and you'll lose that all together."

H e says farming isn't easy because the different terrains and conditions require different farming techniques.

"T his isn't easy I mean, so much of what I see you know especially read the farm magazines, and different things the way they describe to do it, isn't necessarily practical on every field especially in this region."

I n this area Texas and Oklahoma are the only states who can receive the grants.

A t least 25 percent of the program's funding supports the needs of limited resource and socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers specifically those who have been farming or ranching for 10 years or fewer.