Attending the American Farm Bureau Young Farmers and Ranchers Leadership Conference Feb. 16-19 in Reno, Nev. was a great experience both educationally and socially. There are so many challenges facing today’s farmer, especially young agricultural professionals. For example, overall net farm income has declined by 52 percent since 2014. Despite the looming challenges, over 1,000 young people traveled from 45 states to engage in topics related to agriculture.
By meeting producers from other states, I found out that California almond growers have special equipment to shake their trees and make the almonds fall without hurting the bark of the tree. Another man from Georgia said I was crazy, because I harvest corn in November and he shells his in either August or early September.
Many of the presenters encouraged us to go outside of our own fence rows to advocate for our industry and make sure that people in the general population know what we do and why we do it.
It’s amazing to consider how something that happens far away from our farms can impact our operations.
On one particular day, President Trump tweeted that the U.S. was pulling out of NAFTA. Grain prices instantly plummeted, to the point where Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Purdue dropped what he was doing and headed to the White House to convince the president to reconsider. Our prices are dictated by world markets, meaning that we need to watch not only how much rain is the gauge on our fence post, but also be aware of weather reports for foreign lands like Argentina and Brazil.
In Reno, I met some amazing, experienced professionals in various leadership positions within our industry. I got the opportunity to meet and network with young ag professionals from every corner of our state and nation. While statistics show that the American farmer is aging, the proof is out there that those older operators will have family members or neighbors interested in assuming their task of feeding the world, as well as well-trained agribusiness leaders, agronomists, and those types of professionals to support them in the ever-evolving technological world of today’s agriculture.
To learn more about Ohio’s Young Agricultural Professionals Program, events and involvement opportunities, visit experienceyap.com.