"'Aging is hell.' That is not my quote; it came from my late father who never minced words when it came to the aging process," says Philip Shaw, a farmer from Ontario, Canada. Shaw's father farmed up until his 80th year.
Shaw wrote an interesting blog post titled "Actively Farming As We Grow Older: When Will Someday Come Along?" The post gives you cause to stop and think.
The average age of the U.S. farmer is a growing concern for some, and apparently it is a concern in other countries as well.
"It's hard to describe exactly what it is like to grow older on the farm to younger people," Shaw writes. "Last year I was speaking on grain prices and farmland trends to an audience in central Ontario. I told them about paying 20% interest rates and low prices and it was like their eyes glazed over."
Farming is a huge capital investment, it takes a long time to build that and once there, shouldn't you be able to enjoy reaching that point? Farming is also a lifestyle for most, not just a job. It isn't something you leave at the office at 5 p.m. not to think about until your arrive the next morning at 8. There aren't too many 'jobs' like that.
"It seems like such a long time ago that I graduated from high school," Shaw reflects. "However, the fact is it was quite some time ago. Pierre Trudeau was Prime Minister of Canada. I sprayed atrazine on my corn. I cultivated soybeans almost all summer. When I think about those days, it was eons ago.
"The age of 30 was a speed bump, passing the age of 40 was a bit of a rite of passage, but passing 50 makes you really think," Shaw adds. "How long do I want to farm, and if I make that choice how can it be easier? Then of course the question is how long should I farm?"
For Shaw, like many farmers, age not only plays a key, but keeping safety and their well-being in mind is important.
Maybe we are looking at this wrong – instead of the average age of the farmer increasing being a problem, maybe as an industry this is something that we should be extremely proud of.
Agriculture is an industry that will always be needed. Aren't those of us involved in it lucky to have role models who don't want to retire?