by Nathan Brown
Agriculture meetings of any kind are usually filled with grey hair and lots of experience. I am entering my mid-thirties, and rarely find many participants younger than me. Why? Farming is tough and takes lots of things experienced farmers have: Money, land, knowledge, opportunity, relationships, passion, desire and so on. I could list many more.
Usually I leave most agriculture meetings feeling unsure. Unsure of who will produce our food, our fiber, our fuel and our rural communities. This weekend my wife Jennifer and I along with the Ohio Farm Bureau Young Agricultural Professionals (YAP) state advisory committee, had the opportunity to host over 540 Young Ag Professionals at our ‘Growing Our Generation’ winter leadership conference in downtown Columbus. Let’s just say that this is one meeting I left feeling inspired instead of unsure.
I was not sure what 540 young farmers, bankers, vets, ag students, cattleman, produce growers, foodie and agriculture lovers would look like in one room. Well I can tell you that 540 young farmers looks like the brightest future I could have ever imagined!
The excitement, passion, desire and drive to be a part of agriculture was not hard to see. Just like the meetings filled with my grey haired counter parts, these young people want to see American agriculture continue to be the backbone of this country. But they lack the money, knowledge, opportunity and relationships our older farmers have spent a lifetime to build. This is why organizations like the Ohio Farm Bureau and YAP are so vital to help the next generation.
So what brought 540 young agriculturists to one event? The conference offered something for everyone, and builds on the passion and desires of so many to be successful in agriculture. We had great entertainment with the Peterson Farm Brothers singing their hit parodies songs and encouraging attendees to tell their stories. Breakout sessions included micro-brewing, big data, Ohio road laws, backyard poultry, to hydroponics, hops and a whole lot more. Mike Pearson, from RFDTV’s Market to Market, closed the conference with a look at markets and a comedic look at the future of agriculture, encouraging attendees to advocate for agriculture as much as they can.
540 Young Ag Professionals at one conference is awesome. We had only 280 attend in 2014 and in all the years I have attended this conference, over the past 10 years, the average number of participants has been around 100 for a program that has been around several decades. So what is happening, what has changed?
Nathan Brown is Highland County Farm Bureau President and OFBF Young Ag Professionals Advisory Committee Chair