More Optimistic Despite All The Hurdles

US - The availability of land and overall profitability continue to be the top concerns of America’s young farmers and ranchers. However, the majority of young farmers say they are better off financially than they were five years ago.
calendar icon 9 March 2007
clock icon 3 minute read

Those are just a few of the key findings of an informal survey of young farmers and ranchers, ages 18-35, from across the United States, conducted by the American Farm Bureau Federation. Overall, the 15th annual survey of participants in AFBF’s Young Farmer & Rancher Program, conducted in February during the 2007 YF&R conference, shows that the future of American agriculture is in competent and caring hands. Despite challenges, today’s young farmers and ranchers are continuing to invest in new technology and business practices to sharpen their competitive edge, while providing for their families and communities, and protecting the environment.

“The survey results show that young farmers and ranchers in general are optimistic about the future of agriculture, otherwise we wouldn’t see a place for our children in farming and ranching,” said AFBF YF&R Chair Chris Chinn, a hog producer from Clarence, Mo.

For the second straight year, the vast majority of young farmers and ranchers (79 percent) said they were more optimistic about farming than they were five years ago. In 2002 less than 60 percent were optimistic. In addition, when asked if they felt better off financially than they were five years ago, 85 percent said “yes,” down from last year’s record 91 percent and up sharply from the survey’s low of 70 percent in 2000.

As professional opportunities continue to abound, the percentage of young farmers who envision their professions as lifelong (92 percent) remained high. The highest-ever number in this area was nearly 100 percent (99.5 percent) in 1995. While more young farmers (44 percent) started their profession by being raised in a farming family, 30 percent started on their own, which is the highest ever in the survey’s 15-year history. In addition, the percentage of young farmers who would like to see their children follow in their footsteps (93 percent) also remained high despite economic challenges.

For the second straight year, young farmers said availability of land and facilities was their top concern (29 percent). Just two years ago, only 5 percent deemed it their top challenge. In addition, 56 percent listed it as among their top three concerns. These findings reflect the growing demand for U.S. farmland.

Like last year, the young farmers indicated overall profitability was their second biggest challenge, selected by 23 percent. That’s up from 18 percent in 2006 and down sharply from 36 percent in 2000, which marked the highest ever. Also like last year, urbanization and loss of farmland was the third biggest challenge. Thirteen percent of respondents listed it as their number one challenge, while 36 percent ranked it as among their top three. Over the survey’s 15-year history, this challenge was never ranked among the top three until 2003, indicating that concerns are intensifying.

TheCattleSite News Desk

© 2000 - 2024 - Global Ag Media. All Rights Reserved | No part of this site may be reproduced without permission.