Giving Compass' Take:

• The New Food Economy debunks the myth that there's a rise in new, diverse young people taking up farming and that it's representative of the industry at large. In reality, the majority of U.S. agriculture is still run by older white men, with some rich, younger white men in the mix.

• How is policy stifling diversity and innovation in the farming community? Mainly through subsidies for commercial farming practices. The young generation of farmers are still relying on old practices in order to make money. Diverse, sustainable farmers are on the outside looking in.

• This doesn't mean that things can't change. Here's why investing in local, organic farming can help solve the country's food problems.

On the day after Thanksgiving of 2017, the Washington Post ran a front-page story on the “growing number of young Americans … leaving desk jobs to farm.” It profiled Liz Whitehurst, a liberal-arts graduate in her early 30s who left the nonprofit sector for a farm where she grows “certified peppers, cabbages, tomatoes, and salad greens from baby kale to arugula.” The Post argued she is part of a “movement” of young growers committed to sustainable practices, organic foods, and local markets. Kathleen Merrigan, director of the Sustainability Collaborative at George Washington University and the face of progressive food reform at the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) under the last administration, told the Post that farmers like Whitehurst signal a “sea change in American agriculture.”

If Whitehurst were representative, then Merrigan would be right. But the Post’s article, like many similar articles on minority, female, and young farmers over the past several years — including one late last December from CNBCabout Kimbal Musk’s shipping container-based Brooklyn accelerator that is teaching millennials how to farm — rely on misleading interpretations of survey data and optimistic narratives that do not reflect reality.

The average young farmer is less like Whitehurst and more like Chris Soules, the former contestant from ABC’s long running reality-TV show, "The Bachelor," whose family’s Iowa farmland is worth around $35 million.

Soules has received almost $700,000 in farm subsidies from the government since he started farming in 2001. His case is typical: policymakers send the vast majority of agricultural subsidies to large-scale farmers, almost all of whom are white men. As long as agricultural policy favors wealthy, large-scale producers like Soules, then full-time farming will remain the preserve of a fortunate few.

Read the full article that debunks the rise of young, diverse farmers myth by Nathan Rosenberg and Clay H. East at The New Food Economy.