The Farming Industry and Student Loan Debt

Man, I love college

Right after graduating from college every young farmer aspires to buy land and start to run his or her farm. Just like any business, starting a farm is hard for everyone, but with an extra burden to bear in the form of a student loan debt becomes even tougher for young farmers.

In the meantime younger farmers are faced with difficulties with starting new farms and the student loan debt has been marked as the primary deterrent behind the young farmer start-ups. 

While as young farmers have a loop of acquiring low-interest loans to help in opening a farm, these loans eventually do not address the fact that they have a student loan debt to clear.

Young farming graduates are not the only ones who seem to suffer from student loan debt. Other industries have expressed the same burden. For instance, the state of Minnesota is experiencing problems with recruiting and afterward retaining young graduate teacher. And the guilty party, in this case, is the student loan debt.

Student loan issues

A student loan debt burden is an issue that is troubling young graduates in America. Even transition into adulthood which traditionally is marked by owning a home and even getting married is being crippled by the nature of student loan debt.

As young farmers are graduating with student loan debt burden, they are often experiencing crunches from month to month. This is because they are torn between purchasing farm equipment such as a tractor- or buy gas to run it, expanding their operations or paying for their students' loans. 
Striking a balance between succeeding in a new business and paying off student loan debt is a real struggle for young farmers. In almost all cases, young graduate farmers regularly operate at a loss in their starting years or even up to five years in their business.

Paying back student debt

An offensive side of student loan debt is that besides repaying the loan, only very few ways out exist. Even when you have been declared bankrupt, it is virtually impossible to get your student loan discharged. In contrasting other types of loans, student loan debt will be trailing you for the better part of your life. For young farmers, this debt burden is a threat not only to the ability of their business staying afloat as a new business but also their solvency.

The New Young Farmers Coalition (NYFC), an advocacy movement and national network for new young farmers launched a campaign to ensure that farming has been added to the group of other professions that are legible for public service loans forgiveness program 

The NYFC feels that just as the government provides incentives for young students to enroll in education, medicine, and careers, there is need also to offer incentives to young students to take up careers in the agricultural fields.

Nonetheless, the student loan debt is proving to be an intractable hurdle to careers in agriculture. Young farmers are unable to afford to farm, pay their student loans, or they are prohibited leveraging funds to start and build a farm business even on a small scale.

Lindsey Lusher-Shute, the Executive Director and co-founder of NYFC asserts that young new farmers are unable to pay off their student loans because in the first years they are either working as interns or as apprentices or starting as independent farmers. At this time, they are usually making very little income enough to pay for their loans and support them. 

Hoping to lure more young students into the farming industry which is seemingly graying, the federal and state legislators have shown an interest of lending a helping hand. The Congress has considered introducing a bill that would eventually enlist farmers to professions that are eligible for the federal program that pardons students loans for civil service workers. New York State started running the program last year, and other states like Wisconsin are showing interest in carrying out such programs. 

For young graduate farmers, this bill poses an opportunity that could bridge the gap between aging farm owner and the new young farmers’ population.

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