This article is excerpted from an op-ed originally printed in the Cedar Rapids Gazette.

Agriculture is the backbone of Iowa, providing food, fuel and fiber while contributing one out of every five jobs in the state. Our fertile lands, efficiency and innovation in farming have made Iowa the envy of agriculturalists around the world.

However, with just 2% of the population who are growing our food and fuel nearing retirement age, we are facing a critical time in our history: how to attract young people to farming.

For a century, our grassroots farm organization has decided our policies and direction, and supporting endeavors that give young Iowans a head start has always been...