Young Farmers Deserve Student-Debt Forgiveness



It’s not surprising that more and more young people have become enchanted with the idea of growing food.  Cultivating a livelihood through aligning oneself to the natural rhythms of this world serves as medicine for a soul who has lost contact with its source.  Young people these days grow up in an age of connectivity in contrast with severe disconnection.  Our wires and communications stretch the globe while our hands are rarely gestured to enter the forest or to press a seed into the Earth. 

The virtues of a simple life, lived out in such a way that both the wildlands and human communities prosper, has a beckoning that nourishes those who seek to do good.  This way of life not only preserves the incredible heritage of the people who came before, but also protects small pieces of our vanishing natural world.  It is dreamlike and idyllic, and yet rendered almost impossible by the innumerable sacrifices the modern day farmer must make to get by.

With 63 percent of farmland on the cusp of transition to the next generation, it is more important than ever to support and nurture the budding interest young people have in growing food for a living.  Soaring land and equipment costs, a difficult and biased marketplace, limited income, and the physical and mental stress of managing a working farm make the end goal of being a farmer seem all but unattainable.  Individuals who are interested in this way of life come by it to serve their communities and this Earth, to make an honest living and bring harmony between humans and their landscapes.  The financial rewards are so limited and burdens so many that we as a society must choose to support these brave individuals with our local economies and through local and national policy.

Public-Service Loan Forgiveness Program

In 2007, the United States Government deployed the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program aimed to reduce the financial hardship of individuals paying off student loans with Public-Service-Job income.  The program has been made to forgive the remaining student loan debt of doctors, teachers, public-interest attorneys, nurses, nonprofit professionals, and government employees who have paid on their loans for 10 years or more.  This program is designed to lighten the load for those who are helping society the most and at the same time encourage more youth to pursue jobs in these fields.

11/1/2018 3:18:33 PM

There are a number of aging permaculturists without heirs who are looking for young people to work/apprentice on their farms as a means of earning the farms by sweat equity. Whether or not this would allow young people to pay their college debts is unclear, but it is clearly a situation that needs to be explored and evaluated (with conscientious, academic statistical analysis) for the sake of the old, the young and the earth as a whole.

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