Young Farmers of the Americas Conference

logo-aja

Young Farmers of the Americas Conference

We are currently looking at a future with significantly less farmers this means – abandoned farmlands which can and often leads to the renting or selling of arable land to industrial farms, mining companies or development companies all which put fertile arable land at risk. It also means the loss of traditional farming knowledge & practices, native food systems and seeds and access to healthy, safe and just food. Due to so many years of farmers that have been treated as second class citizens, that have been taken advantage of by ‘middle men” younger generations have decided to leave their farms, their families and generations of knowledge for the cities for a life that wont destine them to poverty and neglect.

This is a reality that one can see all over the world just like climate change is a challenge we are all currently facing the loss of our young farmers which will lead us to the loss of food sovereignty.

Statistics from the US and Canada can provide some insight on the unrecognized crisis which we are facing:

– Between the mid 30’s and 2002 the US saw a loss of 4.8 million farms
– “The American Farmland Trust estimates an acre of U.S. farmland goes into development every two minutes, while Environment Colorado estimates the state lost 1.26 million acres of agricultural land between 1997 and 2002
The Denver Post reported. “This loss averages 690 acres per day in Colorado, the third highest in the nation.”
– Statistics Canada said the situation there is similar, as the amount of farms surveyed by the census “continues to drop, according to data from the 2006 Census of Agriculture, declining 7.1% to 229,373 farms over the five-year period between the censuses…This represents 17,550 fewer farms than in 2001.
– “Aging farmers and ranchers, whose average age has risen from 52 to 57 during the last 20 years, are often retiring without a younger family member willing to take over, thus too often removing multi-generation ranches and farms from production” (ibid.).
– Statistics show that less than a third of farms have a designated successor in the family. Many young couples are unwilling to invest $500,000 in a business that requires them to work 12-16 hours per day throughout most of the year and then get a return that amounts to the equivalent of what a farmers’ wages would have been 30 years ago.

These 5 points are clear indications that we are facing an ever growing food and environmental crisis.

We are proposing that we address this immediately by providing focused support to young farmers. Our proposal is as follows:

A conference for young farmers of the Americas to come together for 3 days to share, discuss, learn, connect and shift our current looming food and farmlands future.

Who we’re targeting:

  1. Young farmers from farming families that are at the point of deciding to potentially leave their farm lands for the city – this is the generation that needs our urgent support.
  1. Young farmers that are finding success as farmers, that are making a livable wage, that have access to education, services and resources.
  1. The urban farmer/ gardener that is interested in re-entering the farming life but has no direct access to land, seeds and traditional knowledge.

Why we are targeting these three groups

  1. This group represents the generation that decides whether their family farm will continue to exist or not, this generation is the generation that our food systems depend on.
  2. This group is the group that is a practical and real example that one can be a farmer and not be exploited but instead thrive. This is the example that is brings a different reality to what it means to be a farmer.
  3. This group is equally important- as they say if there is the heart there is a way. This group is eager and needs support in taking their love for growing food

National Meetings

To get to the solutions one needs to fully understand the problems which is why each country is organizing national meetings where they will be inviting young farmers from the above mentioned groups. These young farmers will come together to create lists of common challenges that need solutions to help them continue keeping their lively hoods,  knowledge, foods systems, seeds and lands alive and thriving.

Desired Outcomes

– Strategic planning with young famers that decide they want to stay on their farms and want to make sure they have access to education, resources and a market for their production.
– Strategic planning for the young urban gardeners that want to either find land to expand their urban gardens and or urban youth that want to learn more traditional techniques which can be implemented in their urban context. A possible outcome: Urban gardeners pairing up with young farmers to work the preexisting farms so that they are not abandoned or lost.
– Address common issues which farmers and their families face in their countries context.
– Come to agreements for support and follow-up from the ministries that participate.

Desired date for this conference: End of 2017 early 2018

Desired Location: Huancayo, Peru – Huancayo is a provincial city located in a valley known for its high agricultural production which produces 60% of Lima’s produce. We purposefully are choosing to have this conference in an agricultural region as opposed to Lima the capital.