Technology, temporary help keeps farmers on job longer

In this July 10, 2019, photo, farmer Mark Hosier, 58, uses a lift to get into a tractor on his farm in Alexandria, Ind. Hosier was injured in 2006, when a 2000-pound bale of hay fell on him while he was working. Assistive technology, help from seasonal hires and family members, and a general improvement in the health of U.S. seniors in recent decades have helped farmers remain productive and stay on the job well into their 60s, 70s and beyond. (Andrew Soregel via AP)
In this July 10, 2019, photo, farmer Mark Hosier, 58, rides a scooter as he checks on his pigs on his farm in Alexandria, Ind. Hosier was injured in 2006, when a 2000-pound bale of hay fell on him while he was working. Assistive technology, help from seasonal hires and family members, and a general improvement in the health of U.S. seniors in recent decades have helped farmers remain productive and stay on the job well into their 60s, 70s and beyond. (Andrew Soregel via AP)
In this July 10, 2019, photo, farmer Mark Hosier, 58, works on his farm in Alexandria, Ind. Hosier was injured in 2006, when a 2000-pound bale of hay fell on him while he was working. Assistive technology, help from seasonal hires and family members, and a general improvement in the health of U.S. seniors in recent decades have helped farmers remain productive and stay on the job well into their 60s, 70s and beyond. (Andrew Soregel via AP)

ALEXANDRIA, Ind. — Assistive technology, help from seasonal hires and family members, and a general improvement in the health of U.S. seniors in recent decades have helped farmers remain productive and stay on the job well into their 60s, 70s and beyond.

In the U.S. last year, the median age for domestic farmers, ranchers and other agricultural managers was 56.4 years old. That's the highest median age of any major occupation tracked by the government's Current Population Survey for which data was available.

Experts worry that without the older farmers, there might not be enough people interested in agriculture to support America's food production needs.

They say steep equipment costs and limited land availability are among the reasons younger workers struggle to establish themselves.

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