Agriculture is in a state of flux. With suppressed commodity prices and shifting land values across the country, even well-established U.S. farmers are tightening their belts and figuring out how to weather the storm. The challenging ag economy can quickly take a toll on young and beginning farmers. Becoming a farmer—whether taking over the family farm or starting out on your own—has never been easy, but coupled with difficult economic conditions, it’s harder than ever for young farmers to get their feet in the field.
Many farmers under the age of 35 recognize that one of the best ways to increase their chances of success is by increasing the breadth of their agricultural knowledge. The way Dad or Grandpa did something may no longer be a viable option under today’s unique conditions. For many young farmers, this has meant pursuing a college education. Farmers today are far more likely to hold a higher educational degree than farmers 25 years ago. According to the 2011 United States Department of Agriculture census, nearly a quarter of farmers hold college degrees—an indication of both the increased need for a job off the farm and how the profession is changing.
“A lot of younger farmers are going to school to learn areas of specialty they believe will help their operation be successful, whether that’s agronomy or animal science or economics. They are seeking a strong foundation in one or two topics,” says Michael Langemeier, Ph.D., an agricultural economist at Purdue University. “Even if you aren’t an expert in one aspect of the business, you have to know enough to hire the right person when the time comes.”
Many of our 1,100 employees cite FFA as a formative life experience and have stayed involved with the organization. Here are a few of their stories.
Producer and former FFA member Kenton Abrams shares his experience as a young farmer and his passion for agriculture.
Several organizations across Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee work to get fresh fruit, vegetables and animal protein onto the plates of those in need.
Ag teacher, 4-H leader and first generation rancher Josey Miller shares her experience in Part I of our 'Before the Farm' series.
Many of our 1,100 employees cite FFA as a formative life experience and have stayed involved with the organization. Here are a few of their stories. Read story
Producer and former FFA member Kenton Abrams shares his experience as a young farmer and his passion for agriculture. Read story
Several organizations across Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee work to get fresh fruit, vegetables and animal protein onto the plates of those in need. Read story
Ag teacher, 4-H leader and first generation rancher Josey Miller shares her experience in Part I of our 'Before the Farm' series. Read story
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