Given the downturn in commodity prices and this spring’s rough weather, there’s no getting around the fact that things are tough in Iowa agriculture. That’s why it’s exciting to read about a new survey showing current issues haven’t dimmed young Iowans’ enthusiasm about having a career in farming or in another area of agriculture.
The survey of 380 FFA members by the Coalition to Support Iowa’s Farmers (CSIF) found that 68 percent hope to farm in the future. It also showed that 58 percent of those surveyed have a “very positive” outlook of the future of agriculture in the state.
It’s important to note that most of the young people surveyed aren’t starry-eyed newbies with idyllic visions of farm life. No, 80% are FFA members who live and work on a farm and have plenty of first-hand experience.
That means they’ve likely felt the chill of feeding livestock on Iowa’s frigid winter mornings. They’ve seen parents and relatives sweat out planting delays during a wet spring. And they know that today’s commodity markets are being tossed and turned by uncertainty in trade.
While many of the FFA members surveyed were excited about farming, they understand the high cost of land and equipment make the entry barriers into agriculture very steep. It makes sense that more than three-quarters of the young people surveyed plan to raise livestock if they do farm.
Livestock farming in Iowa has changed over the years and continues to evolve. It remains the best way for young people to get a foothold in farming.