Land availability, regulations concern young farmers
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The latest survey of participants in the American Farm Bureau Federation’s Young Farmers & Ranchers program shows an even split when it comes to concerns about top challenges they face today. According to a March 8 American Farm Bureau Federation press release, a total of 21 percent of young farmers surveyed ranked burdensome government regulations and “red tape” as a top concern; an additional 21 percent cited securing adequate land to grow crops and raise livestock as their top challenge today.
Other issues ranked as top concerns included economic challenges, particularly profitability, 11 percent; availability of farm labor and related regulations, 8 percent; and willingness of parents to turn over the reins of the farm or ranch, 7 percent.
When asked to name the top three steps the federal government should take to help young farmers and ranchers, cutting government spending was the No. 1 response, with 20 percent listing this as most important. Sixteen percent of those surveyed said the government should provide financial help to beginning farmers, while 12 percent indicated reforming environmental regulations should be first on the list.
The 20th annual Young Farmers & Ranchers survey revealed that 94 percent of those surveyed are more optimistic about farming and ranching than they were five years ago. Last year, 87 percent of those surveyed said they were more optimistic about farming than they were five years ago.
The 2012 survey also shows 94 percent of the nation’s young farmers and ranchers say they are better off than they were five years ago. Last year, 90 percent reported being better off.
More than 96 percent considered themselves lifetime farmers, while 98 percent would like to see their children follow in their footsteps. The informal survey reveals that 92 percent believe their children will be able to follow in their footsteps.
The survey shows that America’s young farmers and ranchers are committed environmental stewards, with 61 percent using conservation tillage to protect soil and reduce erosion on their farms.
In addition, computers and the Internet are vital tools for the nation’s young farmers and ranchers, with 93 percent surveyed reporting using a computer in their farming operation. Nearly all of those surveyed, 99 percent, have access to the Internet. High-speed Internet is used by 79 percent of those surveyed, with 20 percent relying on a satellite connection and just over 1 percent turning to dial-up.
The popular social media site, Facebook, is used by 79 percent of those surveyed who use the Internet. The most popular use of the Internet in the survey is to gather news and agricultural information, with 82 percent turning to it for that use.
Finally, the survey points out that 71 percent of Young Farmers & Ranchers members consider communicating with consumers a formal part of their jobs.
American Farm Bureau Federation President Bob Stallman said the annual Young Farmers & Ranchers survey points out that the future of U.S. agriculture is in good hands.
“Our young farmers and ranchers have the know-how and tenacity to ensure that the best days are ahead for our country and agriculture,” Stallman said. “They are the future of American agriculture.”
The informal survey of young farmers and ranchers, ages 18-35, was conducted at the American Farm Bureau Federation’s 2012 Young Farmers & Ranchers Leadership Conference in Grand Rapids, Mich., in February. The purpose of Farm Bureau’s Young Farmers & Ranchers program is to help younger Farm Bureau members learn more about agriculture, network with other farmers, and become future leaders in agriculture and Farm Bureau.