WEST DES MOINES, Iowa — A survey conducted at the 91st Iowa FFA Leadership Conference found that 68 percent of students would like to farm in the future. The survey conducted by the Coalition to Support Iowa’s Farmers (CSIF) was completed by over 380 FFA members. Of those who completed the survey, nearly 80 percent live and/or work on a farm.
While some students are unsure of the career they’ll pursue, they are confident they will be in the agriculture industry. McKenzi Young, a sophomore from Earlham High School, grew up on her family’s farm. Young enjoys showing horses and has a sister who raises and shows cattle.
“I could definitely see myself pursing a job somewhere in agriculture. Activities and experiences in FFA will probably help me discover the area I’m interested in by the time I’m ready to graduate,” says Young. She is part of the 77 percent of students that want to raise livestock if they farm in the future.
David Hora, a recent graduate of Washington High School, also plans to work in agriculture. He currently works for his brother’s business which specializes in soil health testing and analysis. Hora, who will be a freshman in Agronomy at Iowa State University in the fall, says it’s important for the industry to keep progressing.
“As young people in agriculture, we have the power to make changes and overcome problems,” says Hora. “We must keep trying new things and never stop looking for the next solution.” Hora’s family farm is a prime example of this culture of innovation – a no-till row-crop operation which has implemented the use of cover crops.
While 60 percent of students identified that high start-up costs are one of the biggest challenges for young farmers, both Young and Hora also emphasized the importance of adapting to the needs of consumers. Each agree that it’s important to continue working to ensure positive neighbor relations and open communication with the public. Both students feel that CSIF’s promotion of opportunities to do so will be essential in the future.
“The public wants to know more about what goes on inside of an operation. Events like open houses are a good way to get people to trust us and support our products,” says Young.
“For example, things like cow-calf operations under roof will be very important to production in the future, but so will helping consumers understand their purpose so producers can match productivity with market placement,” says Hora.
Young and Hora’s passion is shared by other members, with 86 percent having a “positive” or “very positive” outlook towards the future of agriculture. Seventy-eight percent of students surveyed plan to live and work in Iowa. Knowing this, CSIF feels confident in the direction Iowa’s youth will lead the industry in the future, and the services they can provide which will help them do so successfully.
The Coalition to Support Iowa’s Farmers was created by farmers to help farmers raise livestock successfully and responsibly. It’s a partnership involving the Iowa Beef Industry Council, Iowa Cattlemen’s Association, Iowa Corn Growers Association, Iowa Farm Bureau Federation, Iowa Pork Producers Association, Iowa Poultry Association, Iowa Soybean Association, Iowa Turkey Federation and Midwest Dairy Association. The non-profit, non-partisan organization aids farmers at no cost. CSIF does not lobby or develop policy. Farm families wanting a helping hand can contact the coalition at 1-800-932-2436.
— Coalition to Support Iowa’s Farmers
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