Federal funds spark next generation of Oregon farmers

An influx of nearly
$1.5 million in federal dollars is being used to support burgeoning farms
across Oregon, providing tools and resources to bring a new wave into the

“This federal
investment in the next generation of farmers and ranchers in our state will
help ensure a bright future for these traditional Oregon enterprises,”
said U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Oregon.

The U.S. Department
of Agriculture is awarding a total of $1,493,897 to support education and land
access programs for beginning farmers and ranchers in Oregon.

The Portland-based
Rogue Farm Corps is receiving $743,900 for its Transitioning Oregon’s Farmland
program, which will establish a regional hub for land access and offer
one-on-one support with planning, skill-building and connections to service

Oregon State
University received $749,997 for its OSU Extension Small Farms Program, which
is developing programs to help launch new farmers and ranchers.

“Agriculture is
deeply ingrained in Oregon’s economy,” said U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley,
D-Oregon. “These awards to OSU and Rogue Farm Corps will ensure that
Oregon’s new farmers and ranchers are able to thrive and make Oregon’s economy
even stronger in the future.”

The average age of
Oregon farmers is 60, and it’s expected that nearly two-thirds of the state’s
farmland will change hands in the next two decades, meaning the need for new
people joining the industry is at an all-time high. Rather than allow the land
to be developed or turned into a real estate investment, the hope is it will
remain as agriculture.

“We have an
opening to connect retiring farmers with a new, more diverse generation of
farmers who are ready to take the reins,” said Abigail Singer, project
director and Rogue Farm Corps executive director.