Where have all the farmers gone? - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Where have all the farmers gone?

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July 21, 2005

Sumter County- When Clay Harvey steps into his John Deere he's traveling down a way of life many just don't choose any more.

"It's long hours. Daylight till dark most of the year," Harvey said.

As a 35-year-old farmer, Harvey is rare find. Farmers under the age of 35 make up less than 6 percent of all farmers nationwide. The ones who did pick growing as a profession know without young farmers this country could face a serious problem.

So why did he pick this field of work?

"I don't know. I've had a bunch of people ask me that."

People ask, because they know tending to cotton, peanuts and soybean is a tough business.

"They're going elsewhere, looking for a more secure and stable career," Harvey said.

But that may make the future of American farming unstable as the average farmer grows closer to 60 years old. Even though Harvey is growing crops in three counties and is a partner in Gray Hollow farms, he understands why people choose a different road.

"Instead of worrying about what Mother Nature's going to deal to you. Six hurricanes in one year. It's either too dry or too wet or you have too many worms or too many bugs. It's just something to fight all the time."

But it's the fight he picked.

"It's something you just got to be born with and have a passion for," he said.

It's that passion that makes dawn till dark work worth it when the crops come in.

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