The graying of Michigan farmers, and what they will leave behind

Jeff Oesterle, center, is one of a growing number of Michigan farmers who continue to work the fields after age 65. He has help on his farm from his sons, Don, on the left, and Russ, right. (Courtesy photo)

MASON – Jeff Oesterle may be the new face of farming, even though that face is 65 years old.

At an age when his non-farmer neighbors in Ingham County, are retiring and collecting Social Security checks, Oesterle is planting and harvesting 4,500 acres of corn, wheat, soybeans and hay.

The average Michigan farmer in 2012 was 57.6 years old, eight years older than the average for farmers a generation ago in 1982, and almost 16 years older than the median Michigan worker in 2012, the most recent statistical year available. While the graying of Michigan’s farmers isn’t likely to have an impact on consumers, it is reshaping what we…

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