As a young person in production agriculture, I’m quickly learning firsthand the joys and challenges of raising cattle. Growing up on a ranch gave me an abundance of experience in everything from feed rations to genetics, but when it’s your signature on the dotted line of the weighty documents at the bank, the cattle business takes on a whole new meaning. While it’s important to encourage young producers to get into agriculture, it’s even more critical to equip them with the knowledge needed to be successful.
Government figures show that 3,000 acres of productive U.S. farmland are lost to development every day; and there are now nearly five million fewer farms in the U.S. than there were in the 1930s. And, did you know only 6% of all farmers are under the age of 35? Despite these staggering statistics, there is a silver lining for the under-35 crowd in production agriculture – our numbers are increasing.
"The last time production agriculture attracted so many young farmers back to the business was in the 1970s. Exports expanded, grain prices shot higher, technology improved, land values exploded and interest rates were low. Sound familiar? While the Federal Reserve believes farm operators younger than 35 are the most vulnerable to another shock to prices, interest rates and land values, some youngsters are taking steps to avoid becoming casualties in the next boom-bust cycle," according to an article in the Tri-State Livestock News.
The article compiles a list of advice for young producers, and you can read about each tip in-depth in her article, Young and Landless.
1. Leverage is a dirty word.
2. Insurance mitigates risk.
3. Build staying power.
4. Be willing to farm long distance.
5. Find a niche.
6. Defer luxury of high-priced land.
For a summary of Beginning Farmer Financing Programs, link here. What advice do you have for young producers? What steps do you wish you would have taken in your beginning years? Share some of your hard knocks, success stories and lessons learned in the comments section below.
As prizes for the best advice offered, here are some valuable keepsakes for any rancher, young or not so young. The grand prize is a edition of “Breeds of Cattle, 2nd Edition.” This book belongs in the home or office of every beef cattle aficionado. The second edition, by Herman R. Purdy, R. John Dawes, Robert Hough and Don Hutzel, is completely revised, updated and expanded to include 45 breeds in 400 total pages and fully illustrated with more than 400 images. It retails for $110. The book's documentation includes the history, origin and phenotype of each breed, as well as current statistics supplied by the cattle breeders' associations. To learn more or to order, visit www.breedsofcattle.net.
There will be three lucky winners in today's give-away, so be sure to leave your comments and be entered to win! Prizes will be awarded tomorrow, with another give-away to round out the week!