Nebraska’s young farmers and ranchers say the growth in technology in farming and ranching is one of the most exciting things about being involved in agriculture today, while the growing public disconnect with where food comes from and how it is raised is their greatest concern. The findings come through a non-scientific survey of Nebraska Farm Bureau’s Young Farmers and Ranchers Conference attendees held Jan. 24-25, in Grand Island, Neb. More than 220 young farmers and ranchers from across the state participated in the conference.
“The use of technology to improve production practices on the farm and to allow us to better protect the environment – our land and water – and grow more with less is important,” Todd Reed, chair of Nebraska Farm Bureau’s Young Farmers and Ranchers committee, said Jan. 30. “Having instant access to information and incorporating communication tools into agriculture is the ‘new normal’ and that’s not going to change.”
More than half, 52 percent, of those participating in the survey said the growth in technology, in seeds, machinery and the general scope of precision farming where inputs and management decisions are made on more detailed level, are the most exciting thing about being involved in agriculture.
Other top vote getters for the most exciting thing about agriculture included the recent rebound of profitability in the beef sector and optimism about growing opportunities for young people to be involved in agriculture, including opportunities not directly tied to the farm or ranch.
In terms of the greatest concerns about agriculture, nearly 25 percent of respondents said the growing public disconnect with farming and ranching as well as negative publicity surrounding some farming practices is most concerning.
“Nebraska Farm Bureau's Young Farmers and Ranchers Conference serves as a forum for a new generation of producers. A generation that's standing face to face with some issues they never ran into growing up on the farm, telling their stories to consumers. If we aren't telling our story somebody else will. And if we don't tell our story, we're not going to have a story to tell at some point,” Reed said.
Other areas of greater concern young farmers and ranchers identified in the survey included the growth in activist groups opposed to modern farming practices, the expansion of government regulations on farm operations and the challenges associated with getting young people back onto Nebraska’s farms and ranches and ensuring those that do return can remain viable for the long haul.
The Nebraska Farm Bureau Federation is a grassroots, statewide organization dedicated to supporting farm and ranch families and working for the benefit of all Nebraskans through a wide variety of educational, service and advocacy efforts. More than 56,000 families across Nebraska are Farm Bureau members, working together to achieve rural and urban prosperity as agriculture is a key fuel to Nebraska’s economy. For more information about Nebraska Farm Bureau and agriculture, visit nefb.org.