A recent survey of Iowa FFA members conducted by the Coalition to Support Iowa's Farmers shows agriculture is a strong factor in keeping Iowa's youth in the state. Approximately 97% of respondents have a positive outlook on agriculture's future in the state and 86% plan to farm or work in the ag industry after completing their education.
Approximately 350 FFA members responded to the survey at the recent Iowa FFA convention in Ames. Of the respondents, 72% plan to live and work in Iowa immediately after completing their education.
"There are tremendous opportunities in Iowa agriculture, especially to keep our young people in the state," says CSIF executive director Brian Waddingham. "The optimism in the survey results aligns closely with the calls we've received from farm families across the state wanting to grow their livestock and poultry farms, or start raising livestock for the first time."
CSIF has helped many young people return to the farm
Dalton Brown, a high-school junior and vice president of the North Union FFA Chapter, is one of the FFA members who hope to farm after completing his education. The Brown family raises row crops, cattle and hogs and has a trucking business near Armstrong in Emmet County in northern Iowa.
"I was raised on a family farm and it's important to me to keep that tradition alive," Brown says. "I like to work outside; I don't want an office job." He hasn't wasted any time getting started. The 17-year-old already has 10 of his own cow-calf pairs. "Iowa is a great place to live and raise a family and agriculture is strong in the state. I don't want to move," he adds.
The Coalition to Support Iowa's Farmers was founded 10 years ago and has helped many young people like Brown successfully return to the farm. "With high land prices, it can be challenging for young people to get back to the farm today," Waddingham says. "Livestock and poultry production provides a great avenue to help young people return to the family farm or get started on their own."
Other findings from the survey include:
1) Of those who want to farm, 40% want to raise both crops and livestock.
2) Thirty-five percent believe the primary obstacle for young people not wanting to pursue farming as a career is that start-up costs are too high. Twenty-five percent believe the amount of work in farming is the primary cause, 16% said lack of available land, 15% responded too much risk and unpredictability, with the rest answering inability to earn a stable income and absence of benefits.
3) Eighty-one percent of FFA members are planning to attain at least a four-year degree, with 23% planning on attaining an advanced degree.
In 2013, CSIF assisted over 370 families in responsibly growing their livestock and poultry farms. The organization has now helped more than 2,700 families since its launch in 2004. CSIF is a non-profit organization that assists livestock farmers who want help interpreting rules and regulations, guidance on good site locations for barns, counsel on enhancing neighbor relations and tips on how to protect the environment at no cost.
CSIF is a non-profit organization that assists livestock farmers
This positive, solutions-based approach to helping livestock farmers grow is a collaborate effort involving Iowa Cattlemen's Association, Iowa Corn Growers Association, Iowa Farm Bureau, Iowa Pork Producers Association, Iowa Soybean Association, Iowa Turkey Federation, and the Midwest Dairy Association. The Coalition does not develop policy, lobby or charge for their services. Families wanting confidential assistance in growing their livestock farms responsibly and successfully are encouraged to contact CSIF at 800-932-2436 or visit the CSIF website.
(Editor's note: the CSIF survey of FFA members has been conducted nine times: 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2006 and 2005. A trendline analysis of the most frequently-asked questions is available at www.supportfarmers.com)