Young people in Iowa continue to have a strong interest in livestock farming, according to a recent survey of Iowa FFA members by the Coalition to Support Iowa’s Farmers (CSIF).
The survey showed that of those students who wanted to farm, 89 percent indicated they intend to raise livestock.
"I grew up around livestock and want to continue to be a part of a great industry that has taught me so many important life skills," said Ashley Kahler, a sophomore at Ballard High School and a member of the school’s FFA chapter.
After attending a four-year college, Kahler hopes to pursue her passion for raising hogs and says she would enjoy caring for a small cattle herd as well. "I consider myself lucky to have been involved in raising livestock on my family’s farm, and I hope to share those same experiences and values with my own children someday."
Students like Kahler have the opportunity to pursue on-farm careers thanks to the 122,764 jobs livestock farming is responsible for in Iowa.
"The future of Iowa is still on livestock farms," said Brian Waddingham, CSIF executive director. "Despite the current downturn in the farm economy, there are many opportunities in livestock agriculture for the next generation including traditional species such as hogs, cattle, dairy, poultry and turkey, as well as emerging enterprises such as fish and shrimp."
The 2017 results also revealed that 54 percent of students who don’t have a desire to farm would be most likely to work in an ag business-related field. This was the 12th year CSIF has conducted the survey at the Iowa FFA State Leadership Conference. Responses were collected from 395 FFA members.
The survey also found:
• Ninety-seven percent of respondents have a positive outlook on the future of Iowa agriculture.
• Seventy-five percent of respondents intend to live and work in Iowa — a 6 percent increase from the 2016 results.
• Forty-four percent of respondents believe steep start-up costs are the primary obstacle for young people pursuing a career in farming — a 4 percent decrease from 2015 and 2016.
"The coalition is here to help beginning farmers navigate the challenges of raising livestock, including interpreting rules and regulations, providing siting assistance and enhancing neighbor relations," said Waddingham. "In providing these services, we aim to alleviate some of the risks for young families who aspire to make a living through livestock encounter."
CSIF is a non-profit organization that assists livestock farmers who want help interpreting rules and regulations, guidance on good site locations for barns, counsel on enhancing neighbor relations and tips on how to protect the environment at no cost.
For more information, call 1-800-932-2436 or visit www.supportfarmers.com.