Iowa Youth Optimistic About Ag Careers, Including Farming

05-05-2016 in Livestock

May 5, 2016 – West Des Moines – Despite the recent downturn in the ag economy, 86 percent of Iowa’s youth intend to pursue a career in agriculture, according to a recent survey of Iowa FFA members conducted by the Coalition to Support Iowa’s Farmers (CSIF).

This year marks the eleventh year CSIF has conducted the survey at the 2016 Iowa FFA State Leadership Conference in Ames. Of the 422 respondents, 96 percent indicated they have a positive outlook on agriculture’s future in Iowa.

“I believe agriculture has a very positive future. With the world population expected to double by 2050, there’s always going to be demand for food,” said James Kies Jr. a junior at Cascade High School and member of the school’s FFA chapter. After completing his education, Kies hopes to farm and plans to diversify his operation by raising both crops and livestock. “I’d really like to have my own dairy farm and small cow-calf beef operation. I like waking up in the morning knowing I have something to do.”

Kies is not alone in his desire to farm. Sixty-three percent of respondents indicated they would like to farm. Of those, 90 percent intend to raise livestock.

“The optimism Iowa’s youth has for agriculture and livestock production is reflective of calls the Coalition is receiving,” Brian Waddingham, CSIF executive director said. “Today opportunities in the livestock industry abound. From the traditional enterprises like hogs, cattle, dairy, turkey and poultry to new and emerging opportunities like aquaculture, the calls we’ve received indicate there is still interest in growing the livestock industry in spite of current lower commodity prices.”

Other findings from the survey include:

  • Sixty-nine percent of respondents intend to live and work in Iowa. Another 18 percent plan to leave Iowa for a few years, but then plan to return to their home state.
  • In both 2015 and 2016, 48 percent indicated the primary obstacle to young people getting started farming is start-up costs, the highest this percentage has been during the survey’s history.
  • Seventy-seven percent of FFA members are planning to attain at least a four-year degree, with 20 percent planning on attaining an advanced degree.

The Coalition to Support Iowa’s Farmers has helped many young people like Kies successfully stay or return to the farm. “With high start-up costs, it can be challenging for young people,” Waddingham said. “Livestock and poultry production provides a great avenue to help young people return to the family farm or get started on their own. It’s also good news for Iowa’s economy. In the state of Iowa, animal ag contributed $30.1 billion in economic output and provided 1 in 5 jobs in 2014.”

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. For more information, call 1-800-932-2436 or visit

The Coalition to Support Iowa’s Farmers was created by farmers to help farmers raise livestock responsibly and successfully. It’s a joint partnership involving the Iowa Cattlemen’s Association, Iowa Corn Growers Association, Iowa Egg Council, Iowa Farm Bureau Federation, Iowa Pork Producers Association, Iowa Soybean Association, Iowa Turkey Federation and Midwest Dairy Association.


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