More young people in ag

I read an article today that made me smile: “More young people see opportunity in farming”.

That’s optimism talking. All too often in agriculture, pessimism comes out a lot stronger…

Prices are too high.

Prices are too low.

Food just isn’t safe to eat.

Meat is made in factory farms.

Costs are outrageous.

No young people are coming back to the farm.

The latter is one that I hear quite a bit, so to see this article sparked my interest to read more. The article said,

“While fresh demographic information on U.S. farmers won’t be available until after the next agricultural census is done next year, there are signs more people in their 20s and 30s are going into farming: Enrollment in university agriculture programs has increased, as has interest in farmer-training programs.”

This is exciting! There is a group in Nebraska that is working hard to increase development, businesses and farming in communities across Nebraska…especially rural ones. Connecting Young Nebraskans (CYN) is a statewide network designed to connect, empower and retain young Nebraskans. CYN strives to enhance opportunities for individuals to impact their communities through networking and learning experiences. The network is a dynamic and diverse group of peers with a passion for making a difference, a willingness to learn and the desire to build important relationships to help shape the future of Nebraska.

I was able to attend their first ever conference in 2010 (I couldn’t attend this year’s…bummer!), and a key focus was bringing young Nebraskans back to their hometowns. Maybe it was for agriculture, or maybe it was for a business, but it was awesome to see this group of 20- and 30-somethings have key discussions about what really attracts young people back to their home communities…or rural communities in general.

The CYNers really have something going…check them out on Facebook and Twitter, @YoungNebraskans.

The government is doing something about this too. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has called for 100,000 new farmers within the next few years, and Congress has responded with proposals that would provide young farmers with improved access to USDA support and loan programs. Now, this doesn’t come without hard work and a lot of people in ag have to have more than one source of income to sustain them, but it is rewarding.

Do you have a resource in your state for young people returning back to their rural communities? I’d love to hear more!

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