Young Farmers Are More Optimistic Than Ever

DTN News

Record commodity prices may have something to do with it. Young farmers and ranchers — ages 18 to 35 — are more optimistic than ever about the future of farming and believe they are better off today than five years ago. Their bright outlook, however, is tempered by the group’s top challenges”availability of land and farm facilities, and overall profitability.

That’s just a few of the highlights from the 16th annual survey of participants at the American Farm Bureau Federation’s Young Farmer & Rancher Program.

Following land and facility availability (36 percent) and overall profitability (20 percent), young farmers and ranchers cite increasing urbanization and loss of farmland (14 percent), government regulations (11 percent) and the availability and costs of health care (10 percent) as the next most pressing challenges.

The vast majority”83 percent”said they are more optimistic about farming than five years ago. That compares to 79 percent in 2007 and 61 percent in 2003. And 90 percent indicated they are better off now compared with only 70 percent in 2000, the lowest percentage since the survey’s inception in 1993.

In addition, 92 percent of those surveyed see themselves remaining in farming for the rest of their lives, and 95 percent would like to see their children follow in their footsteps. Eighty-four percent believe their children will be able to embrace the same career if they choose to do so.

When asked what steps the federal government could take to help them continue in farming and ranching, 22 percent said greater financial help for beginning farmers, followed by maintaining a viable farm income safety net and strengthening private property rights (17 percent each), boosting U.S. ag exports (15 percent) and reforming or cutting federal taxes (13 percent).

Using technology is important to this age group. About 90 percent have cellular telephones and computers, and 99 percent use the Internet in various ways.