Iowa Youth Positive about Iowa Agriculture

05-19-2015 in Livestock

WEST DES MOINES, Iowa – May 19, 2015 – Agriculture is helping retain Iowa’s youth, according to a recent survey of Iowa FFA members conducted by the Coalition to Support Iowa’s Farmers (CSIF). The annual survey, in its 10th year, found a record 99 percent of respondents have a positive outlook on the future of agriculture in Iowa; 90 percent want to live in Iowa in the long-run.

“At a time when rural Iowa struggles with population and the state of Iowa strives to retain its young people, agriculture continues to be a bright spot,” said CSIF Executive Director Brian Waddingham. “The optimism in the survey results align with the questions we’ve received from Iowa farm families who want to bring their son or daughter into their farming operation and grow their livestock and poultry farms, or start raising livestock for the first time.”

Erika Ackerman, a high-school junior and secretary of the Sumner Fredericksburg FFA chapter, is one of the FFA members who hopes to farm after completing her education. The Ackerman family raises pigs, cows, horses, and hunting dogs.

“I want to continue the tradition of raising livestock on our family farm,” Ackerman said. “People from around the world depend on Iowa’s farmers for food and fiber and I can’t think of a more noble profession.”

Other findings from the survey include:

  • Of those who want to farm, a record 94 percent want to raise livestock.
  • Forty-eight percent of respondents believe the primary obstacle to young people getting started farming is high start-up costs, the highest this percentage has been during the survey’s history.
  • Seventy-eight percent of FFA members are planning to attain at least a four-year degree, with 23 percent planning on attaining an advanced degree.

Approximately 350 FFA members responded to the survey at the recent Iowa FFA State Leadership Conference in Ames.

The Coalition to Support Iowa’s Farmers has helped many young people like Ackerman 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. Livestock farming and processing generated $31.6 billion for the state, up from $3.5 billion in 2007. When young people make their career choices in livestock, we all benefit.”

CSIF has helped more than 3,100 families since its launch in 2004. CSIF is a non-profit organization that assists livestock farmers who want help interpreting rules and regulations, choosing good site locations for barns, enhancing neighbor relations and protecting the environment.

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 Farm Bureau Federation, Iowa Pork Producers Association, Iowa Soybean Association, Iowa Turkey Federation and Midwest Dairy Association.

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