America's survival depends upon a diversified agriculture and family farms, not giant specialty farms in the hands of conglomerates or corporations, says Boyd W. Munns, president of the Utah-Idaho Farmers Union.
The Garland, Box Elder County, farmer said Friday, during the closing session of the annual convention of the Utah-Idaho Farmers Union at the Tri-Arc Hotel in Salt Lake City, that there are too few incentives for young people to get into farming."America needs to offer young people something for the risks and hard work they face being farmers," Munns said. "The average age of U.S. farmers used to be 57-58. But it is getting older. I`m older. I'm 62, and there are plenty of older farmers around just like me. There aren't enough young men and women getting into production agriculture. It worries me."
Munns, who operates a 100-cow dairy, a cow-calf beef operation and grows hay and grain, said the 1990s "must offer youths opportunities to make money in agriculture. Right now, there just isn't enough profit in producing food to make it worthwhile."
He said interest rates have to come down and money for farming ventures has to become more available. "Credit and money have to be easier to get in order for anybody to start up a farm. There are plenty of young people who could and would start a cow-calf operation or a dairy herd or a grain farm if they could borrow the money over a long period of time and didn't have to pay terribly high interest rates - and if they felt they could make a profit."
Munns said one of the factors hurting farm profits is the over-abundance of food produced in America. "Farmers need to regulate their production to get rid of the gluts of food. Self regulation is the key, with government agencies such as the Agricultural Stabilization and Conservation Service helping to guide and oversee production."
He said he fears conglomerates and corporations are going to gain control of America's farms. "If they do, they will simply take from the land and won't put anything back and we'll have a dust bowl all over again."