According to the 2007 Agriculture Census, the average age of a farmer or rancher is 55.7, up from 53.3 years of age in 2002. Of course, there are obvious reasons why the next generation is struggling to take a role in food production. Escalating land prices, increasing input costs, high investments for starting up and a struggling economy have made it incredibly difficult for young people to stay involved in the family's cattle operation. Additionally, the mainstream's stereotype that ranchers are "hicks from the sticks" reminds us that young people feel a lot of pressure to pursue "more prestigious" careers in big cities. In an effort to make agriculture "cool" once again, Trent Loos is launching a new contest to feature the best and brightest young people in agriculture.
The contest will be known as the “Hot Peppers in Agriculture,” contest, and it calls for tasteful, fun photos that will make food producers “cool” again. Follow-up articles will highlight the interesting lives of farmers and ranchers. Photos can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org. To support this cause, join the facebook group. Here is an excerpt from Trent's column at Loos Tales.
With all of the challenges that we now face in regard to the future of American Agriculture, I am still convinced that the number one challenge is encouraging young people to return to production agriculture. For the past five years I have been amazed at how “our kids” are treated in public settings. I am frequently told about kids who attempt to hide the fact that their parents are farmers or ranchers. The stereotype still exists that we are bib-overall-wearing simpletons. So how do we turn around the public sentiment and set the story straight about the good-looking, smart farm kids that all other kids should look up to and admire?
I am launching the “Hot Peppers in Agriculture” contest and requesting your tasteful photos of people in agriculture that might get someone to stop and look and say, “Hey, I would like to find out what this person is all about.” By the way, I am not talking about a gender biased scenario here, I am requesting male and female photos be emailed to me. I am not restricting it to young people. There are some hot moms and dads in American Agriculture and we need to get them in the limelight as well. My goal is simple here: I want to capture the attention of the non-farm audience and let the world now that it is “COOL” to be in agriculture.
I want to encourage everyone to get involved and send your photos and stories. Instead of having celebrity endorsements to stand up for agriculture, we can show the general public how cool agriculture really is. Let me know what you think of this concept. I'm exciting to interact with the first participants.