What is the future of farming? According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Census of Agriculture, the average age of a farmer in the U.S. is 58.3 years. As the agricultural community ages, the question of who will take over the next generation of farming becomes even more important. Here’s what America’s next generation of farmers is looking forward to, and the ways in which agriculture is drawing a new generation of Millennial farmers to the fields.
Millennial Farmers Value Independence
One of the great advantages to being a farmer is that you can be your own boss. To a generation that may be looking for life outside the cubicle, the freedom of setting your own schedule has its appeal. Farming is hard work, and most in the ag industry can tell you that there’s really no such thing as a day off—but the satisfaction of building or continuing a legacy and creating something that benefits other people so much is hard to beat.
Millennials Introduce New Technology into Non-commercial Farms
Young farmers have resources previous generations didn’t, thanks in part to technology. Many of the innovations we see today build upon a common practice, then put a new spin on it. In the past, you relied on other farmers for help and advice. Thanks to the internet, the next generation of farmers is connected to others in ways we’ve never seen before. Online forums abound, with advice on everything from marketing strategies to equipment hacks. Mobile applications have been developed to help farmers read, analyze and track climate changes, soil quality, seed requirements and more. The next generation of farmers is able to bring these easily accessible advancements to family farms. In addition, initiatives like the American Farm Bureau’s Young Farmers & Ranchers Program helps to provide leadership and community for young farmers. Having the support of other farmers in similar situations can be a huge asset if you’re just starting your own operation.
Ag Students are Eligible for New Financial Aid Programs and Start-up Farm Funding
According to a study conducted by the National Young Farmer’s Coalition, 78 percent of farmers ranked “lack of capital” as one of their biggest obstacles to starting their own farm, and 40 percent indicated that “access to credit” is another significant roadblock. However, thanks to programs like the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Beginning Farmers and Ranchers Loans, you now have access to financial aid that wasn’t available to previous generations. By simply giving young farmers the means to get started, the USDA and other agencies are investing in the future of agriculture.
Millennials Want to Lead by Example in Land Stewardship Advancements
Farmers and ranchers have been caring for the land for generations. With today’s new technologies and a generation of farmers that has more information than ever, conservation and stewardship of the land has become a point of pride for many of you. And programs like the Conservation Stewardship Program are encouraging farmers to maintain and improve their existing conservation systems, as well as adopting new initiatives. Goals for these programs include improving soil quality, maximizing water conservation, and protecting air quality.
All In The Family
Finally, for most of you, farming is a family business. It’s more than just land or a job, and the next generation of farmers is motivated to carry on that tradition. Business succession strategies can help with the transfer of land from one generation to the next and ensure the farm stays in the family.
By Farmers, For Farmers
Farm Bureau’s roots are in serving farmers, even when no one else could. We’re the no. 1 insurer in our territory for a reason. If you’d like to learn more about our ag products and services, contact an agent to find out how we make insurance simple.