The farming profession is blessed with young people who are committed to succeed despite significant challenges.
Farming has always depended on youth — certainly when their labor was needed and even more so now as the current generation ages and the technology goes higher.
One look no further than the 4-H’ers and FFAers who filled livestock barns and exhibit halls through the county and state fair season. The Minnesota State Fair brought thousands of club members together to celebrate agriculture and reward their achievements. The annual ribbon auction raised thousands of dollars for exhibitors and the 4-H programs that are strongly supported by all in the agriculture industry.
Young people are finding ways to enter farming through self-sacrifices and alternative approaches. Their out-of-the-box thinking is leading to success. Direct-marketing, alternative dairy management and potential new crops provide entry opportunities.
A decade or more ago, goat production in Minnesota was virtually nonexistent, the sheep industry struggled from a shortage of producers, and the possibility of industrial hemp production was a mere pipe dream for a handful of folks. Today, those three specialties are thriving here.
Agriculture is benefiting from the infusion.
Agriculture needs new voices to speak up in rural communities, in state capitols and in the halls of Congress. The farm organizations that have contributed so much through the decades need new thinking to better deal with today’s realities and the future's challenges and opportunities.
The Farmers Union helps nurture the future through its summer camps and year-long programs. The Farm Bureau too inspires young people to step forward to fill leadership positions within the organization.
Farming is about families and neighbors who work together to create good. Long ago, it was seen in barn raisings and today neighbors come together to harvest a sick farmer’s crops, to house livestock while facilities lost in storms and fires are rebuilt.
The achievements celebrated by 4-H and FFA members wouldn’t be possible without the adult volunteers who organize club meetings, assist with projects, and lease animals to urban members without access to livestock.
The Minnesota State Fair lost its Machinery Hill years ago, but its essence and focus on youthful achievement remains. People make the difference and that is evident during fair season.
Farming needs all the good news it can muster these days. It is found in the hopes and dreams of the young who are determined to forge careers in an industry that is so vital to rural communities and the nation at large.