Follow us on Twitter!

Categories
2008
2010
2011
2012
2013
2014
Adams County
ADHD
advocacy
Africa
ag
ag policy
apple
apple art
Apple Blossom Festival
apple juice
apple tree
apples
art
Ask A Grower
award
bad humor
Baltimore
baseball
beer
bees
Ben
berries
Biglerville
biology
birds
blog
bloom
blossoms
Brick and Mortar
brix
bulk
buyer's club
CA storage
Camp Hill
canned goods
canning
Carlisle
CCD
Central PA
certification
charity
cheese
Chef
Chefs
cherry juice
chilies
choosing
Chuck Darwin & The Knuckle Draggers
cider
Cider Fest
Cider Town
clingstone
cocktails
colorblind
Columbia Heights
concentrate
conservation
contest
cooking
craft beverages
crop diversity
customer survey
damage
Dave
DC
dining
dinner
discounts
Donald G. Wenk
drought
Dust Bowl
education
events
Fair Food Farmstand
Family History
FAQ
FAQ market
farm
Farm Dinner
farm history
farm labor
Farm Show
farm visit
farm workers
farmers
farmers markets
Farmers on the Square
Farmers on Walnut
food
Food Alliance
Food in Jars
food policy
Food Safety
food soverignity
food system
Food Tank
Food Tank Summit
Food Trust
FOTS
FREC
freestone
freeze
freezing
frost
fruit
fun
Future Harvest
FutureHarvest
fuzz
Gettysburg
Gift Baskets
Gift Boxes
Gifts
grafting
Granny Smith
Greenbelt
Grocery Store
growing
Growing Greener
Growing Practices
guide
guster
Harbor East
hard cider
harvest
Hawkeye
Headhouse
heirloom
heirloom apples
heirloom tomatoes
HHS
history
homebrew
homewine
Honeycrisp
hot
hot peppers
humor
IFTA
instagram
Intermarche
internship
IPM
John
juice
Ken Burns
Kenilworth
Kosher
Kosher Certified
lancaster
land access
LEAF
lightning
local
lysteria
Madam Fromage
Mark Bittman
market
marketing
markets
Maryland
Maryland Department of Agriculture
Maryland Farm to Chef
Master Farmer
mating disruption
maturity
MD
meetings
merlin
Muscle Bound Lummox
music
nectarines
Nerdy ag
NRCS
nursery
NYFC
Obama
oddity
offseason
One Straw Farm
online
online orders
online store
orchards
orders
organic
Organophosphates
Orioles
PA Apples
PA Cider Fest
pantry items
PASA
peaches
penetrometer
Penn State
Phillies
Philly
photos
pictures
planting
Ploughman
Ploughman Cider
pollination
preserving
President
press
pro food
produce
profood
PSU
raptors
Reading Terminal Market
recall
recipes
Red Delicious
refractometer
restaurant
restaurants
ripe
rodents
rootstock
Roy Orbison
science
scion
scouting
seconds
seedlings
Shane
SHAP
shipping
silly
Silver Spring
social networking
South Africa
starch iodine
STEM
storage
subsidies
survey
sustainability
sustainable
Tasting Menu
testimonials
The Atlantic
tomato
Tony Danza
tour
Towson
travel
tree
trees
Trini food
Trinidad
trivia
twitter
value added
varieties
video
visit
weather
White House
white peaches
wildlife
winter
winter markets
World Series
Year in Review
yellow peaches
YGA
ZA
zagat
Mailing list sign-up
<< Back

STEM

Posted 6/11/2015 5:45pm by Ben Wenk.

Dave and Ben with then-now-current PA Secretary of Ag and Young Farmer Enthusiast Russel ReddingI was asked for my reaction to the new bipartisan bill sponsored by Reps. Courtney & Gibson "Young Farmer Success Act of 2015", as described in this Mark Bittman editorial, that would classify those farming for ten years as public servants in the interest of student loan forgiveness.

 

First off, I love Mark Bittman.  He's a great mouthpiece for the change we need in our food system. 

 

And I love this editorial!  I actually have friends who have lobbied on behalf of the NYFC.  I also support Rep. Courtney's bill and think you should too but, as Mr. Bittman alludes to early on, the problem is not so simply solved.

 

In addition to the land access issue, young and beginning farmers are faced with a learning curve.  This is the part in this editorial where I point out how fortunate I am to have received a degree from PSU's College of Ag and that I have a family full (moreover, a community full) of experienced advisers and mentors in the field of agriculture, which is a pun that's tired but necessary in this case.

 

A young, motivated baccalaureate graduate doesn't make a successful farmer overnight.  That being said, I know plenty of them that have achieved success.  I also know plenty who have wanted to, tried to, and ultimately could not or are not farming presently due to a variety of circumstances.  The point of Bittman's article is that, should our society value food production as public service, as I agree we should, then loan forgiveness can solve one of these circumstances to which I'm referring.  Maybe it starts the cultural change that can bring the whole situation back into balance.

 

So often a posterchild for PSU AgSciencesIn a lot of ways, working on a farm has been considered an option of "those who couldn't attend college" for generations.  That's how we got to this point in the first place, right?  First off, education is a worthy pursuit any way you slice it - it's vital to understanding the richness of life any way you slice it.  And while it's not the case that "nothing about your liberal arts education will prepare you for farming" - if we're serious about farming as public service, let's find liberal arts colleges with student farming programs and support them - there are two fine one's in our backyard (Fulton Farm, Dickinson).  Let's be real about it - if farming is public service (and it is), tell your sons, daughters, nieces and nephews that farming is an impactful career choice (Cicero sure thought so).  Encourage them to learn the sciences!  Tell them about PASA, about FutureHarvest CASA.  I know it's not for everyone, but when I figured out I wanted to farm, I studied Ag Sciences.  It offered me incredible opportunities that were practical, applicable, and not easily learned "in the field" to recycle the expression again, to everyone's irritation.  Step one, let's get this bill passed and get some student loan relief for young and beginning farmers.  Step Two, let's complete this culture change and talk about farming as public service... not like it's a last resort for people who "couldn't do my job", for example.  While the mechanics of farming seem simple, making a farm a successful business (not to mention someday retiring) is incredibly difficult - it's not a lower percentile thing, so let's just put that whole notion to bed.  And Step Three, although education of ANY kind is, in and of itself, very important, the more science, training, and practical experience our new farmer-public servants have, the more likely they succeed.  Teach young farmers plant science!  

 

All this before we tackle the land access issue!

 

(or providing farming opportunities to minority and women farmers, but c'mon - I've only so much time I can devote to this stuff... I am farming here, afterall)