How Student Debt Is Crippling Young Farmers And The Future Of Agriculture | NBC News

Quackers, quackers. You’d think I’d check my student loan payment monthly or my balance, but I don’t. It’s set on auto pay. It’s in the 190,000 range. I know that for sure. Oh, 210,000. It’s more than what do you thought. I don’t know why that number should freak me out but it doesn’t. It’s fake money in my mind, fake money. [MUSIC] Here goats, here goats. [MUSIC] After graduating from law school and working in private practice for a few years, Lauren Manning decided to change her life and go into farming. I didn’t grow up on a farm. I don’t have a single farmer in my family. I don’t really know how I got the farming bug. I like being outside in nature, I love working with animals. I’m also a big fan of grass feed beef and learning how to manage pastures, and manage ecosystems. I just love it so much, I can’t really at this point imagine never farming. I farm here by myself right now. This is Dorothy, Dorothy is a bottle lamb. Normally, we don’t name all the sheep but the bottle babies usually end up getting names just because they’re almost part of the family while you’re feeding them six times a day. And that’s Denise over there. At no point in our nation’s history have young people graduated from college with such an intense debt burden. And for young people trying to get into agriculture, this barrier is often insurmountable. I have quite a bit of student loan debt. I went to undergrad at University
of California, Santa Cruz. I went to law school at University
of Pacific McGeorge and as a result of both of those, I have over $200,000 in student loan debt. It’s serious, it stresses me out. It’s a huge financial obligation every month. When you’ve got a $200,000 student loan and then my farm is $275,000. That’s close to half a million dollars in debt. I’ve gotten really thrifty at buying things used on Facebook marketplace or Craigslist or things like that. Farming is a labor of love in your first few years and there’s so many startup costs. I feel like I go to Tractor Supply or Lowe’s or Home Depot once a day to get something that I need. Is that all you need today? That’ll do it. Now,the farm is very much an expense, there’s not a lot of money coming in yet. There’s still income,
I’m still selling goats. I’m still selling meat and things like that. The margins are slim, especially now more than ever. Lauren has an array of off-firm jobs. She teaches at the University of Arkansas, and writes for several publications. The teaching job makes her qualify for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program. She’s also signed up for an affordable repayment plan, which reduced her monthly payment from over $1,000 to about $370. But even that is too steep for her. If I had that 370 in my pocket, I wouldn’t go out and spend it on silly things. I would invest it in this farm, I would pay for more fencing. I’d put it in a rotational grazing system like I want to do, it would make a huge difference. Lauren bought her farm in December 2018 with the help of a federal program that subsidized her down payment. This farm is 32 acres, right now, I’ve got 37 goats, and they are meat goats, a few head of cattle. And then a few head of sheep, not a ton, and then, I just got into ducks. It a blank slate, there’s no corral, there’s no handling facilities, there’s no barn. To pay off the student loan debt, Lauren is relying on the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program. It will erase her debt after she teaches for ten years, and makes 120 payments. So the first thing I do is I’m
an adjunct professor at the University of Arkansas. And then I also am a freelance journalist, I write for Ag Funder. I also write for Food Dive, Grocery Dive and Restaurant Dive and then I freelance for Successful Farming. In our survey of 700 farmers around the issue of student loan debt, we found that almost 60%, either couldn’t start farming because their student loan debt. Or are having trouble growing their businesses because of their student loan debt. The US desperately needs new farmers. The average age of farmers
is approaching 60. And farmers over 65 out number farmers under 35 by more than six to one. So, we need more farmers to enter careers in agriculture and student loans are preventing them from finding success. Lauren met veteran farmers, Ann and Ron, on a farm tour four years ago and decided to become their apprentice. Neither Ann, nor Ron thinks their children will take over their farms. Ann and Ron are like a second set of parents to me. I was so hungry to learn how to farm, I was a total sponge, and so anything they would tell me, I would just cling to. Lauren showed up one day and now we can’t get rid of her. She’d ask a few questions and expected a few answers, and she didn’t get any, so she keeps coming back wanting answers. We do have a lot of people that say can we come out to the farm? We always say yes, and very few people show up. So the fact that she came out every day, I think that was a surprising thing, was that she seemed so motivated to see how much she could learn. And she did, she learned it so fast. Lauren often helps Ann and Ron with their deliveries in Fayetteville. Not too bad, I got a ton of beef for you. [LAUGH] See you in a minute, bye. Thank you for bringing this to us. Of course. Perfect, what a deal. That’s flattering for us. We’ll post about it on Facebook and Instagram, Sliders back in action. Please do. That’s right. Thanks guys, see you soon. No thank you, have a great day, Lauren. You too. It’s very important for me to have young farmers coming in because we have worked really hard to develop the Ozark pasture beef business. And I hate to see that business just disappear when Ron and I decide that we no longer want to be part of it. So we have looked for young people to come in who would be interested in being part of this business. It’s difficult to find the student
loan debt to me is really terrible. When I was a freshman, my first year of college, my tuition was $75. [MUSIC] I talk about how stressed I am to my friends and family, and especially my boyfriend. And I always realize when I hear myself talk that, Lauren this is all self-inflicted. You chose to farm, you chose to create this career path that didn’t exist for you. And in some ways, I’m very proud of myself for that, to be brave enough to
see if I can make this work. I would farm even if I didn’t make money from it and I never ever resent the fact that I had to jump through so many hoops to get this farm. Because I look out my window everyday and I think I’m so lucky to have this view. I’m so lucky to have such a big piece of nature when so many people can’t even afford to buy a house in the city. [MUSIC]

70 comments on “How Student Debt Is Crippling Young Farmers And The Future Of Agriculture | NBC News”

  1. downtourth says:

    I'm in love

  2. Jason Tempel says:

    Follow The Money

  3. Alter Ana says:

    I'm sorry, but are we to feel sympathy for this woman? This story is clearly incomplete. She borrowed over $200,000 for an education in law, then changes her mind?? Then, she borrows another $275,000 to purchase a farm? Who loaned her the money to purchase a farm, with the debt load she was already carrying?? And who takes the hit if these loans are "forgiven"? (Hint – the TAXPAYER). She made all these life choices and now, like all adults, should be expected to deal with the consequences.

  4. Brigitte Lopez says:

    Arrogant spoiled free loader, NOBODY ASKED YOU TO GET ALL THESE LOANS.

  5. first name last name says:

    Wait shes a lawyer ?

  6. Brigitte Lopez says:


  7. Dave the ARC Trooper '1321' says:

    The reason less young people are farming is because its really hard work. 15 hour days during planting and harvest and unpredictable yields it's easier and less stressful to pick up a desk job someplace

  8. B D says:

    dumb people go to college ,, smart people just work

  9. 1982 says:

    fake news

  10. Smiles says:

    I feel like the Government is trying to crush my generation with debt. There is no possible way this doesn't lead to economic collaspe

  11. 1982 says:

    farmers don't need student loans, this is a hipster wanting a handout. no.

  12. 1982 says:

    32 acres? hahahahaha frickin mooching hipster

  13. Angelus Tenebris says:

    This woman created her student load problems and now she wants taxpayers to pay??? πŸ€” πŸ€” πŸ€”

  14. Oui Bay says:

    The only way to solve the debt crisis is too watch it crash and burn and start over.. College tuition is way overvalued than it was in the 60's due to unlimited loans driving costs!

  15. Ruben Guerrero says:

    She used the system for loans to receive services and wants the loans forgiven? Sounds fair. β€œNot real money” is telling….

  16. LeesaDeAndrea says:

    What a strange example to pick. She is in debt because she went to law school not ag school.
    Also, if she continues to teach, her school debts will be forgiven, right? She also got her down payment subsidized, right?
    She just doesn't like having to pay that $350 a month on her loan.
    Basically she is trying to make a living being a hobby farmer. Her "farm" is really an acreage.
    The size of an average farm where I live is 1400 acres. And the average cost at about $1300 an acre is almost $1,900,000 for a 1400 acre farm. (Edit was to add the cost of a 1400 acre farm. Don't even mention what they have to pay in property tax.)
    How about addressing the problems of real farmers?

  17. Tom Dockery says:

    Jews would starve if we didn't feed them.Most of the world is fed by a White Protestant male driving a John Deer.

  18. Michael Jean says:

    Thanks you for farmers

  19. Kurt Beck says:

    Make debt. Pay back. What is the problem?

  20. Michael Michael says:

    I am 65, worked my through school as a married father in the early 80s, a borrowed a total of 63k, and consolidated the loans in 1994. I was unemployed from 1998 to 2004 and 2007 to 2010. I retire in 6 months….i currently owe 310,000.00, do to interest accumulation when I was unemployed of the 13 years I made payments in excess of 65 thousand. I worked in Public sector, but, my loans did not qualify to be discharged, wrong consolidation program. Anyway how much of the trillion dollar debt is borrowed money or interest and penalties…thanks

  21. Bigslick says:

    Great, she chose to go to law school and now wants to farm. That’s a perfectly okay decision, but she has to live with the choice to take a much lower paying job.

  22. toughsuga2 says:


  23. William Walker Perry says:

  24. deathvalleyalex says:

    Let me get this straight after going to college then paying back my student loan . The democrats decided that the students making poor borrowing choices should have the taxpayers pay for the borrowing mistakes the students and their parents made ? Really ? The example shown studies at law school to the sum of over $100,000.00 then becomes a goat herder after graduation . And you think I should lay for that stupidity . REALLY ? Talk about a flawed thought process !

  25. PLS Critic says:

    This is not a good example of the student loan debt crisis. She has chosen to make bad investment choices. I applaud her, however, for her decisions to work multiple jobs to pay off her debt. We need to make college more affordable, and we also need to make it possible for our population to not have to pay more taxes to curb this debt crisis.

  26. johnlouisville says:

    This woman was a very poor choice to pick as an example.

  27. Johnny Cruise says:

    people think you need an education to become wealthy it takes a dream and dedication something a school book dont teach you…

  28. Tiki Thgink says:

    I am proud of you being a lone farmer and moving forward with it.

  29. Eang Thai Ngov says:

    Hello there!
    I would love to learn how to farm.
    I would include a vegetable garden and legalize marijuana plants.
    Please understand that you can share with the animals on a farm if you grow vegetables and marijuana. Please don't be greedy with the farm animals when the farm animals consume vegetables and marijuana in their diet.
    You can also save the farm animals and sell the marijuana.
    We can make baskets or bridges with hemp which stems from the marijuana plant.
    Save a farm animal and purchase the marijuana instead of eating the farm animals.
    I can also be a very strict vegan.

  30. Kevan Yang says:

    good thing i NEVER took a loan LOL

  31. David Smith says:

    this is why trump will lose. he offers zero no plans for student loans. millions of voters will turn out to vote for Warren or Bernie to erase student loans (that is at least 4 extra state wins secured for democrat)

  32. Ray Bod says:

    No. These people are given loans at a vulnerable age without a full explanation of the impact of these loans. The reason loans have interest payments is to cover the risk that some loans will go in default. There are two parties involved in loans, the person loaning out the money and the person borrowing the money. The problem with student loans in the U.S. is they can never be gotten rid of even in bankruptcy. This has totally the destroyed risk/reward factor involving loans. All the risk gets dumped on vulnerable young people and all the reward goes to those who make the loans. This system rewards the lenders who make bad loans to people who will never be able to pay back the loans. Risk needs to be brought back into the system to stop bad lending practices.

  33. 6 Gorillian Sea Monkeys says:

    Develop an app to sell directly to customers, cut out thieving middlemen! National Socialism supports workers and farmers, outlaws fake news, liars and Zionist tricksters and banksters thieves, slavery.

  34. Sabine Around the World says:

    Trump Towers has RATS!!
    Poor buffoon keeps digging his own grave.

  35. Alberto Rodriguez says:


  36. Konqueror 1 says:

    Doesn’t she qualify for D-man’s ($300 billion dollar trade war bungle) farm bail out?

  37. Dang Shame says:

    Dayum….she thick.πŸ€—

  38. Inyalabudbud Punjabbidaliwad says:

    A lawyer who became a farmer…..just like grandpa 1928. He was pretty smart. Fed his whole family after October 1929, plus a lot of other people. But……I don’t feel sorry for her college debt.
    I would be willing to forgive the debt of a kid who β€œgrew up” on a farm and wants to remain a farmer….not a lawyer.

  39. Mary Hocking says:

    Greedy universities and if you don’t have the money to go to school than save until you do…your choice… sympathy from me…

  40. Andrew Boilson says:

    Assistant Prof no PhD, your debt. Not the tax payers. You made your bed….

  41. Jon H says:

    What do farmers need to go to college for?

    $210,000 in debt? PhD in gender studies?

  42. mariusz nowak says:

    Broken system really sad 200000 for school no thanks no wonder why I dropped out

  43. John Smitherson says:

    I guess she wasn't thinking about that debt when she was in school.

  44. Sweety Girl says:

    What she really should have done is follow through with the degree she got in debt for, get a good paying job, and get financially stable before even CONSIDERING something as financially draining as farming. What she did is the epitome of stupid. It's equivalent to getting two credit cards, maxing them out, then starting a "farm" and crying about debt as an indirect way to ask for a handout.

  45. Mark Delgado says:

    When you sign on the dotted line for that loan. You have promised to pay back that loan. If you don’t you are a liar and a thief. How can you ever be trusted to take out any other kind of loan.

  46. bill hicks says:

    What a joke ! Pay up millennials

  47. ned mo says:

    What is her story about? And college is not for everyone of course they have some jobs for without college degree but it takes time to make upper jobs, and start low income job like helper like that

  48. You Know says:

    Meanwhile Trump dismantled the USDA's department on Rural Development.

  49. john says:

    Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Booooooooooooo FUKIN Hooooooooooooooooooooo

  50. Google User says:

    I'm glad I chose not to go to school but instead learned to do blue collar work by my mentor, now I run my own business and couldn't be happier

  51. Konqueror 1 says:

    How the heck did she buy all those goats and such? Has she looked into a mineral density test on her property? Is she single? She could be sitting on a goldmine of oil reserves and may have a potential asset that can be liquidated quickly and provide her with great financial freedom.

  52. GDP GDP says:

    I got to say ,
    More power to you .
    Find happiness.
    If law school and becoming a lawyer is not making you feel happy.
    And doing farming those.
    You made the right choice.
    If you haven't find your cowboy ,I wish you the best on that .

  53. saigonbond says:

    Every 1% increase in student loan debt, home purchasing (which is a backbone of the U.S. economy) decreases by 15%. The default loan rate is approaching 40% on a total debt of $1.52 trillion.

  54. AnotherButt 4chair says:

    You know one topic not talked about is why in the world a college education has to be so expensive. Were too busy focusing on the debt, but no one is examining the source of that debt.

  55. Janice says:

    The correct headline should read: β€œHow the poor choices of entitled millennials is crippling taxpayers.”


    Why is this so stupid. Maybe she can sue some farm animals for extra money for her student loans.


    Please pay you loans it your responsibly and its not anyone else.


    NBC trying to brain wash people for free college. No free college.

  59. Verminlord Soulberry88 says:

    Wrong. This news is FAKE!
    I think i don't actually watch the news anymore.

  60. foam dinner says:

    Why do you go to school to be a farmer

  61. Eldest Gruff says:

    Since when does farming require a degree which would then require a student loan?

  62. Sam Issam says:


  63. K.A. GORDON says:

    6:23 Yeah I always buy my fresh meat in parking lots too!!!! It's cheaper than a hotel room and the cops don't bother you. I live next to a feed lot in AZ….anyone who still eats that crap deserves the health issues they claim they didn't know's 2019. That includes organic meat and gluten-free meat. Cows are feed some wheat with their forage when free-grazing. OMG EVERYONE PANIC. 99.5% of people have no idea what gluten is but claim they can't eat it for some hilarous reason. This of course does not pertain to sufferers of celiac disease.

  64. Michael Feathergill says:

    "if i had more money i would invest it in the farm. i would put in a rotational grazing system for the cows" i aint no farmer. maybe there is alot more to it. but isnt that just moving the cows from one place to another? how much could the system cost? from the video it looks like all you have to do is call the cow to come over here.

  65. XFLEUR says:

    β€œStop borrowing money to finance ALL your dreams, or else they’ll become nightmares!” ~ Dave Ramsey.

  66. kissmyash X says:

    You don't need a collage education in order to make a living. Where is that written? So how is a collage education "crippling" farmers? More leftist b.s. This is how Hitler came to power.
    1) take away firearms. ( This leaves citizen's defenseless)
    2) Fill their heads with propaganda. CNN
    3) They are all liars.

  67. Melanie O'Hara says:

    What about the Biggieβ€”America’s National Debt? No end in sight on that one. At least this gal is paying her’s off. No so for US Government. Crazy!πŸ€¦πŸΌβ€β™€οΈ

  68. demondojr says:

    It's only fake money when it's someone else's.

  69. Mark Dunbar says:

    Thats why my stupid self never went to college.I dont owe [email protected]

  70. Tina Moreland says:

    You went to school to be a lawyer. Work as a lawyer and farm as a hobby until you pay off your law degree loans!

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