Newbie Farmers Pair With Old Hands

By Drew Nelles,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 16, 2009 3:43 PM CDT
In this July 14, 2009 photo, farmer Isaac Phillips stands in a cornfield on his farm in Richland, Iowa.   (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
camera-icon View 4 more images

(Newser) – Matchmaking just might save the family farm, the AP reports. States such as Iowa, Virginia, and Washington have started programs pairing would-be farmers with those aiming to retire, in the hopes of beefing up independent agriculture and keeping rural areas populated. "I thought I may never get a chance like this in my life," one farmer-in-training says. "I knew there was no way I could do this on my own."

It’s a win-win situation: novices get training and, ideally, inherit some of the land, while would-be retirees know their farms are in good hands. It won't reverse years of decline in the industry, but it's a start. "John really took me under his wing,” the newbie says. “If I tried to buy a farm out there and work it by myself, I would have been a nervous wreck.”