Bringing the Next Generation of Farmers Back Home

Across the midwest farms are facing the challenge of how to keep the next generation on the farm; regenerative agriculture may be the answer.

Growing up, Frank Rademacher watched dad run the family hardware store and lumberyard, while grandad took care of the family farm. Not inclined to either of the family businesses, Frank considered his love of sciences and his desire to “change people’s lives for the better,” he chose to become a nurse.  

While Frank was studying for his nursing degree, he received word that his dad had returned to the family farm. To increase the viability and stability of the Rademacher farm, Frank’s dad began experimenting with regenerative agriculture; practicing ‘no-till’, planting cover crops, and switching to non-GMO seed. These regenerative agriculture practices helped decrease the expenses on the farm. The increase in profitability presented Frank with the opportunity to become a 3rd generation farmer, and he took it.

“It’s a lot easier to farm with nature rather than against,” says Frank about how the science of regenerative agriculture mimics naturally occuring systems. In regenerative agriculture the farmer’s time and land stewardship knowledge replaces modern farmings pricey external inputs; genetically modified seeds, pesticides, fertilizers, and expensive equipment. Regenerative agriculture allows for less, or none, of these expenses which equals more money and security. Frank states, “Without regenerative agriculture our farm wouldn’t be able to support bringing me back.”

Changing from modern farming to regenerative agriculture practices is an investment of time and money few farm families are able to endure. This past year the Rademacher’s were able to helpv profits with the Fall Cover for Spring Savings Program. The program monetarily rewards farmers for every acre of cover crops planted, one of the first steps to transforming a farm to more regenerative practices. The Fall Cover for Spring Savings Program will put $300,000 back into Illinois farms, representing 50,000 acres.

The Alliance aims to work with legislators to continue and double the funding for the Fall Cover for Spring Savings Program to change more families’ lives for the better, like the Rademachers. With double funding the state would support 100,000 acres in 2020, and with over 135,000 acres having applied in 2019, Illinois’ demand for more regenerative practices is strong. 

Supporting regenerative practices with financial compensation is a pivotal step in bringing profitability, and the next generation, back to Illinois farms. Join the Alliance for the Food & Farm Virtual Lobby Day, April 2nd to support this and other legislative priorities that will cultivate a better future for all.

Click here to register for our Farm & Food Virtual Lobby Day