Across the Fence
I believe in the future of farming with a faith born not of words but of deeds – achievements won by the present and past generations of agriculturists; in the promise of better days through better ways, even as the better things we now enjoy have come to us from the struggles of former years.”
As many of you know, that is the opening paragraph of the FFA Creed, or my recollection of it more than 30 years ago when I joined the Future Farmers of America as a freshman in high school. Oh how I wanted to win that chapter Creed Speaking contest so that I could go on to area and, hopefully, district competition and maybe even state. I practiced and practiced for weeks, saying it out aloud, repeating it over and over to myself. But alas, I didn’t win. I got beat out by a guy named Mark. I guess he had better stage presence than I did.
Over the years, the Future Farmers of America simply became known as FFA, and the original creed written by E.M. Tiffany was updated, but I still believe in the future of farming.
In this edition of Ozarks Farm & Neighbor, we are highlighting some of our future agriculture leaders from right here in the Ozarks, and they are an impressive bunch. While they have different backgrounds and plans, they all share the same desire to keep agriculture a part of their lives, and with young people such as this, the future of the industry looks pretty bright.
As adults in agriculture, we need to encourage the next generation to continue their quests. After all, they will be the ones to carry on the tradition after we are all gone.
According to the last U.S. Census of Agriculture, the average age of the American farmer has increased eight years over the last 30 years. Today’s average farmer is 58-years-old. That statistic has some worried about where food and other agriculture products will come from once today’s farmers retire, but there is a resurgence of young people returning to or staying on the family operation, or starting their own from scratch. They feel the “need” to raise livestock and/or till the soil. They want to be at the frontline of food and fiber production.
With the new generation also comes new opportunities in the agriculture industry.
Colleges and universities, and even high schools, are seeing the need to increase educational offerings in the field of agriculture. Today there is much more than animal science, horticulture and agronomy degrees being offered. Agroecology, organic and sustainable crop production, EcoGastronomy, and ecological food and farming systems are just a few of the fields of study being offered around the country.
In May 2015, US Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that there would be “tremendous demand for recent college graduates with a degree in agricultural programs,” with an estimated 57,900 high-skilled job openings annually in the food, agriculture, renewable natural resources and environment fields in the United States.
One of my former ag teachers used to tell our classes that there was much more to agriculture than cows and plows, and it looks like he was right.
Yes, I believe in the future of agriculture. I believe the industry will be in capable hands when it is handed off to future generations.
I also believe in the future of agriculture every time I see my young nephew get a big smile on his face when he talks about driving the tractor to help his dad and grandpa haul hay. I believe it when I see my nieces show their goats. I believe it when I see my older nieces and their husbands take their small daughters to feed cattle or hogs.
I might be a little partial, but I think my family’s tradition of agriculture is in pretty good hands.
Juliehttp://www.ozarksfn.com/2015/11/09/across-the-fence-22/http://www.ozarksfn.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/mugs_Julie-Turner-Crawford.jpghttp://www.ozarksfn.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/mugs_Julie-Turner-Crawford-140x150.jpgEditorial / OpinionsArkansasI believe in the future of farming with a faith born not of words but of deeds – achievements won by the present and past generations of agriculturists; in the promise of better days through better ways, even as the better things we now enjoy have come to us...Melissa FullerMelissa Fullermelissa@ozarksfn.comAdministratorOzarks Farm & Neighbor Newspaper