“You’re the future of agriculture” is something my generation hears all the time. Those words alone are enough to make any farm kid shake in their boots. Why? We’ve grown up in 4-H and FFA. We’ve raised pigs and clipped show heifers. All while watching the generations before us work their tails off to provide for their families.
To me, “the future of agriculture” looks a lot different than when my parents were my age. The responsibility of carrying on the family tradition as a farmer has gotten a lot heavier. We’ve moved on from a time when markets were booming, numbers looked promising and the average person had a deep respect for what farmers do each day.
Social media wasn’t mainstream, and prominent anti-agriculture organizations weren’t winning the fight. It was a time when people didn’t question whether our food system was safe and trustworthy. And, they didn’t tell you how to care for your animals or land.
With the average American being at least three generations removed from agriculture, we’ve outgrown the common understanding of farming. Times weren’t easy in the past. But, there’s a new struggle to teach the world why farming is important and to regain consumer trust. I have been blessed with a family that was supportive in my decision to go to college and further my education.
I’ve found that while my path isn’t going back to my family’s 450-cow dairy farm, I have a role in agriculture.
Not only is my generation tech savvy; we’re passionate, too. Youth organizations have molded us into leaders from a young age, and we’ve been raised with the mindset that we can do anything we put our minds to. For example, I could become a princess, run for president or win World Dairy Expo. I don’t anticipate Disney calling any time soon. And my white house will be found on a back road with a wrap-around porch, not on 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. However, my generation is going to change the world.
It seems like this job of educating the masses has been left to my generation, the “futurists.” The idea is that when we join the workforce and choose our careers, we will use our understanding of agriculture technology to convince the world to believe in rural America again. But, I propose a challenge: Why wait?
Things aren’t going to change overnight, but we shouldn’t wait for tomorrow to start. No matter your generation, we all share a love for animal agriculture and what we do. We work tirelessly each day to protect its future. Sharing the story of agriculture is as easy as sharing a post on Facebook, answering someone’s questions at the fair or starting a blog. You just have to take a step forward and put yourself out there for others to learn.
Everyone can be a futurist, not just the next generation entering the workforce. Together we can regain the strength of our industry. The future of agriculture starts right now, and it belongs to all of us.