Rural youth optimistic about future of agriculture
A surplus of optimism was obvious among visitors to the Oklahoma Farm Bureau exhibit during the 2013 Oklahoma FFA convention, April 30 to May 2, as 84 percent said they’re convinced agriculture has a bright future.
When asked to list the challenges facing agriculture today, the top three answers, in order of popularity, were the weather, telling the farm story to the non-farm public and a lack of young farmers and ranchers. Other answers included attacks on animal agriculture by animal welfare groups, lack of profitability and dwindling natural resources.
“It’s encouraging to see the energy and enthusiasm these kids have for agriculture,” said Mason Bolay, chairman of the OFB Young Farmers and Ranchers Committee and exhibit sponsor.
Almost 80 percent of the FFA students responding to the survey also said they were planning on a career in agriculture. Several of the youth said they were choosing a medical career over agriculture.
“I see that as a positive because we need more doctors, so hopefully they will practice in rural areas,” Bolay said.
This marks the fourth consecutive year Farm Bureau has conducted the informal survey at the FFA convention and each year the youth’s optimism dominates the results. One interesting contrast to past surveys is the considerably higher number of youth considering a career in agriculture, 80 percent in 2013 versus about 50 percent to 60 percent in previous years.
“The higher number choosing ag careers could be the result of higher commodity prices compared to several years ago,” Bolay said. “It could also be a result of the industry doing a better job of promoting agriculture as a solid career choice.”