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For those who remember the TV series, call it the “Green Acres” effect. Fueled by an economic downturn that has curtailed the upward mobility of many corporate jobs, general dissatisfaction with suburban stresses and growing discontent with what they see as the ills of industrialized agriculture, thousands of families across the United States have left suburban cul de sacs and headed to the countryside – forging a new demographic of family farmer.

The U.S. government is not only monitoring the trend, it is encouraging it – backing loans for land purchases and operating expenses as well as grants for seminars and workshops to train people how to be farmers. Government-backed loans to new farmers have more than doubled in the past decade.

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