Friday, February 24, 2017

Sustain Farming by Encouraging the Next Generation

Ryan Tipps
Managing Editor,

There are many ways that the agriculture community defines sustainability -- it can be in the stewardship of the land, the welfare of farm animals, or in the selection of seeds and crop protection. Sustainability is, and should be, the guiding principle for our work on the farm.

But one of the most important ways that we can cultivate agricultural sustainability is in how we approach and encourage the next generation of farmers and ag professionals. Their passion for the industry, both now and in the future, is what will continue to drive farming further. Connecting with those young people is so critical. By telling their stories in a positive way, giving them the tools and resources needed to thrive, and mentoring them, whether through FFA or 4-H or independently, the current generation has a responsibility to ensure that the next generation wants to follow in the impressive footsteps of food production.

There’s nothing static about the ag industry, and that includes the tools that we use to connect with this younger generation. After all, if we aren’t connecting with the farm youth, then they aren’t getting the support that they deserve. It’s a mobile-driven world, and social media has created a dynamic network for everyone to better understand the nuances of the industry and its people and the decisions that are made at every level. Sometimes that’s as simple as the shared experience of ag -- fueling the passion of our youth is camaraderie over the hard labor and solid work ethic of being raised on a farm, or the first time a youngster drove a tractor, or the knowledge that family will always be there for you and that perseverance pays off. There’s no doubt that there is value in sustainability, but what sometimes gets overlooked is there are important values in it, too., a National Ag Day sponsor, helps to connect the experiences of our youth and to engage them intellectually and socially. It’s important that the contributions of young farmers be recognized along with those who have been farming for decades. That’s the road toward sustainability. That’s the road for agriculture.