Young farmers struggle to buy Michigan farmland

Capital News Service
LANSING – Young farmers don’t always have the opportunity to buy or rent suitable land nor have the capital to acquire enough land to be profitable, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Educational programs help young farmers face these challenges. Tom Nugent, director of field operations for Michigan Farm Bureau, said its Young Farmers program, started in 1935, is designed to give beginners a solid foundation for a future in farming. The program consists of 18-35 year-olds but new farmers older than 35 are able to participate, Nugent said. The USDA defines a young farmer as one with 10 years or less experience operating farms.
Ryan Vanderwal of Lake City went through Farm Bureau’s Young Farmer program and now owns his own dairy supply company, Star City IBA.

Young farm worker rules misunderstood, Labor Department says

Capital News Service
LANSING – A proposed revision of federal regulations for young farm workers is in need of clarification, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. “Children employed in agriculture are some of the most vulnerable workers in America. Ensuring their welfare is a priority of the department, and this proposal is another element of our comprehensive approach,” said U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis. The revision aims to better regulate child labor in agriculture, including a better interpretation of the “parental exemption,” according to the department. The department said the proposed rules would not eliminate the parental exemption, created in 1966, which allows children of any age to work on even hazardous tasks on a farm owned by their parent.