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WATCH: 101-year-old farmer identifies challenges for Georgia's next generation of farmers

Rising cost for farmers hinders younger generation from going agriculture industry.
Posted at 6:48 PM, Jan 18, 2024
and last updated 2024-01-18 18:48:29-05
  • People are more likely to meet a farmer over 65.
  • Younger people might not see themselves joining the farming industry due to rising farming costs.
  • Watch the story to hear from 101-year-old farmer St. Elmo as he breaks down challengers for the next generation of farmers.


America's oldest workforce is in need of younger recruits. I'm talking about the next generation of South Georgia farmers.

A 101-year-old farmer is telling me why he has no plans to retire just yet.

"I just love it that good,” said Saint Elmo Harrison.

Well that much is clear after 72 years of harvest here at his Whigham farm.

The long time farmer has experienced accolades from being named the 2023 outstanding peanut farmer of the year to a proclamation award gifted by gov. Brian Kemp himself, St. Elmo Harrison's legacy is known in many ways.

But, he too has experienced hiccups along the way.

"I had one year I didn't pick them [peanuts]. The dry weather caused a dry spell and it didn't make enough to even gather, said Harrison.

Harrison said he remains thankful for his seemingly endless years dedicated to farming in South Georgia. Yet, he remains fully aware of the challenges the next generation of farmers are facing.

" They don't get as much for crops and equipment and everything… crop..seed and everything is so much higher than it was [before],” according to Harrison.”

According to the Georgia Farm Bureau, the cost for non irrigated cropland has gone from $3,500 per acre in 2022 to $3,950 per acre in 2023.

That's an increase of over $400. Pastureland averages $4,600 per acre in 2023.

"They just can't afford it,” said Elmo.

The U.S. Senate Committee on Aging reports that 58 is the median age of farmers.

People are more likely to meet a farmer over 65.

Why younger people might not see themselves joining the farming industry. Rising costs of farmland, fertilizer, fuel and other primary needs for farming poses a threat to incoming farmer's pockets.

Harrison's family plans to honor his legacy by keeping the farm in the family.

"It's kind of a family tradition." said Carla Harrison Nix, St. Elmo’s daughter.

Newer farmers could qualify for certain incentives like grants through the USDA or FSA.

Find out more about grants here.

Review Georgia farming cost information here.