Being on the American Farm Bureau Young Farmers & Ranchers (YF&R) Committee, we hear about the challenges our fellow committee members face across the country on their farms and ranches. In Ohio, we are having problems with water quality, specifically Lake Erie and Grand Lake St. Marys. Jon Dinsmore, a YF&R Committee member from Arizona, has a farm on the southern border that is surrounded on three sides by Mexico and he has a completely different set of problems. As a lettuce farmer, he irrigates his crops and must cut back on his water usage due to water resource concerns. But that is not his only problem. It’s not out of the ordinary for him to see illegal immigrants running through fields after crossing over into the U.S. Plus, this past summer, he went out to find 60 large hay bales were stolen from his farm overnight! All three of those issues are something we have never had to deal with on our midwestern grain farm.
Wildlife is a problem in other states. Jacob Larson, a YF&R committee member from Florida, was telling us how he lost the tip of his thumb trying to remove an alligator from his farm to protect those who worked there. At our YF&R conference last year in Nashville, an attendee was telling us about his problem in Montana with wolves. The re-introduction of wolves in Yellowstone was beyond successful and the packs began to expand their territory creating problems for cattle farmers. The wolves find young calves to be easy prey.
In Wisconsin, the Clarks, who are beef and grain farmers, live and farm in a subdivision. Their family farm was partially sold off in the ‘50s during a farm transition and in result, their 150-year-old homestead is now surrounded by houses. They struggle daily with their neighbors since their feedlot is in their backyards. The Clarks have taken this as an opportunity to address misconceptions regarding modern farming practices and educate them. They just recently took up a blog to help get their story out.
Looking at the big picture, every farm across the country has major concerns. These are problems we never would have thought about and some we hope to never have to deal with! Share your concerns and share your story. This will only open the eyes to others to help. We can make a difference together.
Pictured above: The American Farm Bureau Young Farmers & Ranchers Committee at AFBF’s 2016 Convention in Orlando this past January. Katie and Latham Farley are the second and third from left in the front row.
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