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AGRICULTURE REPORT – April 30, 2002: American Farmers - 2002-04-29

This is the VOA Special English AGRICULTURE REPORT.

Two new reports offer information about American farmers. The first report provides official information on farms and farmland in the United States. The other gives the opinions of young American farmers.

The Department of Agriculture reports that the number of American farms decreased last year. It estimates there were two-million-one-hundred-sixty-thousand farms. That is down seven-tenths of one percent from the number reported in Two-Thousand. It was the second biggest decrease in the number of American farms since Nineteen-Ninety-One.

Nationwide, more than three-hundred-eighty-million hectares of land were used for farming last year. That is down about eight-hundred-thousand hectares from one year earlier.

The other report comes from the American Farm Bureau Federation, the nation’s largest farm group. It questioned about three-hundred farmers between the ages of eighteen and thirty-five from across the country.

This report found that the leading concern of young farmers was earning a profit. It was the fourth time in four years that those questioned said making a profit was their top concern. For the fifth year, the young farmers said international trade was important for making a profit. Many of them said increasing agricultural exports was the most important step the United States government could take to help farmers.

The young farmers were divided on a question that dealt with future earnings from agriculture. A little more than half said their farm earnings should come totally from selling their crops. The others said farmers also need payments from government programs.

Fifty-one percent of those questioned said they started farming as a member of a family business. Twenty-seven percent entered farming on their own. Almost fourteen percent said marriage led them to farming.

On a separate issue, almost seventy-two percent of the farmers said they or their husband or wife have an additional job not connected with farming.

Fifty-nine percent of the young American farmers said they are more hopeful about farming now than they were five years ago. More than ninety percent said they believe they will remain in farming all their lives. And, almost eighty-five percent would like to see their children become farmers.

This VOA Special English AGRICULTURE REPORT was written by George Grow.