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Daily Newscasts

New Blood for the Farm: Luring the Next Generation

August 10, 2010

HELENA, Mont. - Keeping kids on the farm and getting young adults interested in the agricultural way of life; that's one focus of the upcoming Midwest Rural Assembly, which Montana representatives will attend.

Jonathan Beutler, program associate with Renewing the Countryside and spokesperson for the National Rural Youth Assembly, is one of the featured speakers. He says rural populations have been dwindling as teens move away for school and to seek job opportunities in cities, and farmers and ranchers aren't getting any younger.

"Average farmers in this country are now approximately 60 years old, so it's really critical that we find effective ways to transition farmlands to the new generation."

Beutler says rural communities need to find ways to help young people afford to buy and lease land, and generate profits that compete with big city jobs.

Fear of isolation is also a common concern from young people contemplating a move back to a rural community, according to Beutler.

"I think if we want to attract young people back to rural communities, we need to really reinvent them as a place that is friendly to young people and will make young people feel at home."

Social gathering spots, local arts, and cultural opportunities are some of the "draws" he says will make young people feel more at home.

Conference information is at www.midwestruralassembly.org

Deb Courson, Public News Service - MT