Forced to sell the family farm after 240 years

Published on May 19, 2021

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Reported today on The Seattle Times

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Forced to sell the family farm after 240 years

DURHAM, N.Y. – Farmer Frank hobbled into the house, cane in hand.

“Sow got out of her pen, had to chase her down,” said Farmer Frank – Frank Hull, 71 – whose body, ravaged from decades of heavy manual work, is no longer built for chasing sows.

For half a century, he and his wife, Sherry, 67, have run their 260-acre farm here in the upper Catskills, some two hours north of New York City.

Known as Hull-O Farms, it has been in Frank Hull’s family since his forebear, John Hull, founded it some 240 years and seven generations ago.

It is one of the oldest farms in the country continually owned and run by the same family. But that lineage is about to end.

The Hulls can no longer handle the strenuous physical work needed to earn enough to keep up with the taxes, insurance, mortgages, barn maintenance and other rising costs, so they are putting the farm on the market.

“We don’t want to leave the land,” Sherry Hull said. “But we’re running out of options.”

The Hulls are part of the graying of America’s farmers.

One in three farmers in the country is 65 or older, and scores of small farms across the country close each year because their aging proprietors don’t have successors.

In 2017, when the last federal agriculture census was taken, the average age of a farm owner or manager was 58.6, more than 8 years older than in the early 1980s. That year, there were 2,042,220 farms in the country, representing a loss of 173,656 farms over the previous two decades.

In New York state alone, 1.8 million acres of farmland are owned by people 65 and over, many of whom are financially unprepared for retirement and often wind up making the quickest and most lucrative move: selling to developers, said David Haight, an official with America

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Hull-O Farms Durham NY for Sale, Forced to sell the family farm after 240 years.

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