FFA Student Survey Shows High Interest in Career in Agriculture, Concerns with Start-Up Costs

05-13-2024 in News Release

WEST DES MOINES, Iowa – May 13, 2024 – A recent survey conducted by the Coalition to Support Iowa’s Farmers (CSIF) at the 2024 Iowa FFA Leadership Conference shows that 70 percent of students would like to farm in the future but continue to have concerns about high start-up costs. Of the 191 members who completed the survey, now in its 19th year, 55 percent currently live on a farm.

Preparing students for career success is a pillar of FFA. This is evident among the responses of Iowa FFA members, with 94 percent planning to continue their education after completing high school. Additionally, 82 percent plan to farm or work in an ag-related field.

Caleb Lentz, a senior at Nashua-Plainfield High School, lives on his family’s diversified crop and livestock farm. He plans to obtain a bachelor’s degree in agricultural education. “I’ve had experiences growing up on the farm and in FFA that have led me to pursuing a career as an ag teacher. Although I don’t plan to return to the farm full-time, I’m open to continue helping when I can,” he said.

Nearly 48 percent of respondents indicated that high start-up costs are a primary obstacle to new and beginning farmers. This is an 8 percent increase from last year’s survey results. “My biggest concern looking forward is the lack of available land,” said Clarke Community High School senior Elli Blackford. “Land availability and price has been a consistent issue. I currently have to rent land for my livestock because that’s what’s available right now.” Blackford lives near Osceola, IA and raises cattle and goats. She plans to obtain a bachelor’s degree in animal science and ag business and pursue a master’s degree. “I’d like to have my own cattle in the future, but there’s a lot of unknowns,” she added.

Despite the challenges faced by young farmers, 96 percent have a “positive” or “very positive” outlook towards the future of Iowa agriculture. Eighty percent of students plan to live and work in Iowa.

Cameron Colbert, a sophomore at Woodbury Central High School, is eager to continue his family’s farming legacy. He plans to attain his associate’s degree, then have an off-farm job in addition to returning to his family’s diversified livestock operation. “Farming is a family tradition,” he said

The Coalition to Support Iowa’s Farmers was created by farmers to help farmers raise livestock successfully and responsibly. It’s a partnership involving the Iowa Beef Industry Council, Iowa Cattlemen’s Association, Iowa Corn Growers Association, Iowa Farm Bureau Federation, Iowa Pork Producers Association, North Central Poultry Association, Iowa Soybean Association, Iowa Turkey Federation, and Midwest Dairy. The non-profit, non-partisan organization aids farmers at no cost. CSIF does not lobby or develop policy. Farm families wanting a helping hand can contact the coalition at 1-800-932-2436 or visit www.supportfarmers.com.

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