A few weeks back, I had a conversation with a truck and tractor dealer who was very adamant about several agricultural issues our country is facing. There were a lot of topics thrown around from subsidies to government influence, but the one that caught me was about the younger generation.
It’s a theme that finds its way into every discussion I have with other industry folks. “We need more young people in our line of work,” is the phrase that I hear for the most part. From many angles, the data is sobering. For example, Growing’s reader survey found that 65 percent of you who are reading this column are between 35 and 64 years old. That percentage is on par with the U.S. Department of Agriculture statistics shared in our cover story by Rocky Womack. As mentioned in the feature, on average, the farmer is not getting any younger.
Faced with that reality coupled with the pace of advancing technology, it’s not surprising why some ag veterans are raising the alarm. But the ag world will not go away. That’s just a natural fact. The devices and methods may vary, but the core principles will stay in place: seeding and harvest. As the future moves on, young people will (and have) step up to the plate and grab the baton from the generation before.
Best of all, as with generations before, the younger grower will add his or her twist to the oldest profession and leave it better than they had when they entered. The nation’s farm bureaus have many initiatives to assist young people in that task. Also, the outreach to millennials is abundantly available with 4-H, Future Farmers of America, university extensions and farm-to-school programs.
As you are fully aware, people don’t get into agriculture, growing more specifically, to get rich. It’s either a family thing or something more sound in spirit that consumes whoever chooses this profession. There are younger folks who are willing to put in the work. It is time to find and train them. They’re still out there!