According to the latest 2007 USDA National Agriculture Statistics Service, roughly 4 million family farms have been lost since the 1930’s, though it should be noted that small farms (50 acres in size, or less) have increased about 13% compared to the earlier USDA 2002 census data). As the population of family farmers continues to age, there is also a critical shortage of young farmers to take their place. Michael Paine is a rare breed; he doesn’t come from a farming family, and he’s relatively young. His story is a good example of the unique challenges facing those who wish to take up farming.
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