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Meet a Member of Iowa’s Bright Agricultural Future

Posted on July 2, 2012 at 12:00 PM by Iowa Corn

For the past eight years, The Coalition to Support Iowa’s Farmers (CSIF) has conducted an annual survey at the Iowa FFA State Leadership Conference in April.  Each year the survey of Iowa FFA members aims to see how many students plan to pursue an agricultural degree, plan to farm, and plan to stay living and working in Iowa.  Of those who say they wish to farm, the survey also looks to find the dynamics of the students’ future farms.  During this year’s Iowa FFA State Leadership Conference, held in Ames April 23-24, CSIF surveyed nearly 200 Iowa FFA members, from whom they gathered these findings:

  • 94% plan to pursue an ag related career, much higher than the 2005 result of 77%
  • 82% plan to obtain a 4 year degree
  • 76% currently live on a farm
    • 68% have crops and livestock
    • 23% have livestock only
    • 9% have crops only
  • 77% wish to farm
Of those who said they wish to farm:
  • 49% say they would grow crops and raise livestock
  • 23% raise livestock and work part-time off the farm
  • 17% raise livestock only
  • 7% raise crops and work part-time off the farm
  • 3% grow crops only
  • 53% want to be part of a family-run corporation
  • 30% farm independently
  • 16% either partner with area farmers or raise livestock on contract.
  • When asked about the primary obstacle for young people wanting to farm, 45% said start-up costs are too high, 18% the amount of work involved in farming, 15% lack of available land, 9% risk and unpredictability, 9% inability to earn a stable income and 4% absence of benefits.
While these numbers alone look good, they become even more promising when one additional statistic is taken into consideration, of the nearly 200 students polled, 90% plan to live and work in Iowa.  These numbers show that Iowa’s future looks bright; young, intelligent students plan to stay in Iowa to live well and work hard. 

Josh Earll of Sibley, is just one example of an FFA member planning on living, working, and farming in Iowa.  This coming fall, while serving as a State FFA Officer, Josh will be a freshman at Iowa State University majoring in Agriculture Education.  He chose his major not in hopes of teaching, but for the diversity and opportunities that the major has to offer.  After graduation, he plans to stay in Iowa and pursue a career as an Auctioneer, Appraiser, and Realtor while farming.  He plans to plans to have a large cow/calf pair and stock cattle operation while also raising corn and soybeans.  When asked why living in Iowa and Agriculture is important to you, he replied, “Living in Iowa and Agriculture are defiantly what have made me who I am today.  Growing up in Iowa has exposed me to amazing people, beautiful land, and an incredible agricultural industry, experiences that I would never trade.”

He went on to talk about the importance of agriculture in his home area. “Osceola County, like most areas in Iowa, has huge ties to the agriculture industry.  It seems like no matter who you ask, everyone is directly linked to production ag either through their career or a family member.  Agriculture is also the driving force behind our local economy, and without it, our little piece of Iowa would cease to exist.”

Besides planning on pursuing a degree in ag, planning farm, and planning on living in Iowa, Josh has one more thing in common with the survey takers.  Ninety-seven percent of the 200 FFA members surveyed say they believe the future of agriculture looks positive.  They believe that agriculture will continue to grow stronger and more efficient as we strive to feed the world. “I believe that agriculture has a positive future.  Every day we have more and more breakthroughs in technology that will only help us get better.   No matter what path agriculture takes, one of its biggest hurdles is new, qualified individuals entering the field.  The interest in agriculture has never been greater, and I believe this is pulling more students towards careers in agriculture.”

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