Last night, I had the great opportunity to speak at the Watertown FFA Banquet. While traveling to Watertown, I had the chance to visit with two young ranchers. I learned about their families, their operations, their goals for the future and how they are making it work right now. In conversations with them, their passion for the industry was contagious, and I admired the way they put that passion into action to reach their goals. While both were incredibly optimistic about the future of agricultural production and their careers in the field, they both admitted to facing a few key challenges, as well.
In my conversations with young producers, most of them cite working in multi-generation operations as an area of difficulty. Meshing old traditions with new ideas can be a challenge. Too often, we see the younger generation working as a glorified hired man, with the owner and operator holding tight onto the management reins until a very old age. At other times, the generations seem to work well together. Perhaps, the primary owner takes on the crop side of the operation, allowing the young person to make the managerial decisions on the livestock side. However it works, it's definitely a roadblock for many young producers, but all have sourced communication as the primary key to success. Having a clear idea of the direction of the operation is paramount to a sustainable, successful farm or ranch. The only question is, how do we get there?
Obviously, the second issue facing young producers today are the financial obstacles. One ag lender told me that I needed to be a millionaire to get into production agriculture. Frankly, I'm not letting that little tidbit get in my way; however, the input costs and start-up fees for a young producer can be overwhelming. When visiting with the young producers yesterday, they shared that they utilized programs like the Beginning Farm and Ranch Loan to get them started. They both credited their parents, neighbors and friends for helping them along the way, as well, whether it's financially, or with labor and equipment. The idea of working together to accomplish our goals is more prevalent today than ever before, so how are young people making those connections, building those relationships and making it work?
If you had one piece of advice for a young rancher, what would it be? If you are a young producer, what are your secrets to success? I pride BEEF Daily on being a great sounding board for ideas and advice, and I hope your comments today will serve as a solid resource for all of the readers facing the same challenges as myself. I appreciate your participation, and I thank you in advance for your thoughts.