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By Jim Wallace - bio | email ALBANY, GA (WALB) - Every five years the U. S. Department of Agriculture conducts a Census of Agriculture, and the recently released 2007 Census shows a disturbing trend.
There are fewer Georgia farmers, and the ones left are much older. Georgia's number one industry, agriculture, could be in trouble as more young farmers are changing jobs.
After more than 12 years of farming, Greg Gosa gave it up last year, and opened a lawn care business.
"I enjoyed it for many years and thought it would be the only thing I every did. But sometimes you get burnt out doing something and you need a little change," Gosa said.
Gosa said borrowing hundreds of thousands of dollars to gamble on making a very little profit was tough. But then farming started hurting his family life.
"Farming during the growing season is seven days a week. Early in the morning until late at night. You don't get to see your family a lot."
Steve Stocks says he understands Gosa. He says farming can be "terribly stressful."
The 67 year old third generation farmer has been in the agriculture since 1958, and says he really enjoys it. But he also notices that most of his fellow farmers are older.
"Father time will take care of most of us," Stocks said.
The USDA Census shows almost 17% of Georgia farmers are 65 years of age or older. Only 2-tenths of one percent of farmers are under the age of 25, and your food supply depends on them.
"I really don't know what's going to happen, but I really don't see a lot of young people coming into it," Gosa said.
"I've always told people that Mr. Winn Dixie and Mr. Harvey doesn't grow that food in the back room of the grocery store. Somebody's got to do it," Stocks said.
While they are less farmers, there are more acres planted and harvested in Georgia in 2007 than in 2002. Stocks says he is optimistic Georgia farming will stay strong, but without Gosa.
"I really don't miss it. I'm content at what I do," Gosa said. Stocks say they are not sure who will be Georgia's next generation of farmers, because most young people are not looking at agriculture.
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