While battling traffic on overcrowded freeways, dreaming of a simpler existence may commence. The fantasy of various farm careers drifts in. But is feeding pigs and harvesting corn the answer to urban problems? Turns out there’s a big difference between daydreams of kicking back on a wrap-around porch eating farm-fresh eggs and standing knee-deep in cow manure. So, beyond mere traffic jam fantasies, can farm careers make a comeback?
The Rise of the Millennial Farmer
There’s been a renewed interest in leaving the big city behind and diving into agriculture. For many, farming is something passed on from generation to generation — you’re born on the farm, it’s in your blood and you continue the tradition. But with the rise of organic farms, sustainable living, and technology, new farmers are on the rise.
Mike Ledley, a Millennial who’s just starting out as a farmer, tells Parentology, “I didn’t grow up on a farm, but farming is something I always wanted to do.” His dream: “I want to bring better quality food to the people.”
The Reality of Farm Life
There are many things to consider when looking into a career of farming, not the least of which are basic skills like planting and harvesting a crop. Added to the mix, though, are vital elements such as protecting a crop and making money off of it.
Alex Tatlock, a Canadian farmer for over 50 years tells Parentology farming isn’t easy. “You can’t just buy a tractor, plant some seeds and call yourself a farmer. It’s hard work, 24 hours a day, with no guaranteed salary.” Bringing reality to the fore, Tatlock says, “Mother Nature can be cruel and you end up with nothing.”
The younger generation isn’t afraid of hard work and a learning curve. For many, their renewed interest in agriculture is paired with innovation. Yes, Millennials are bringing technology to the farm. With the use of AgTech, drones and loT smart meters, excitement over farming is seeing a resurgence.
A good thing, too, especially considering by the year 2050, the world population is on target to reach almost 10 billion. Agriculture and food production will need to increase dramatically to keep up.
Encouraging Life On the Farm
Seeking to inspire a new generation of farmers, the North Dakota Farmers Union (NDFU) recently got behind the children’s book, Our Family Farm authored by Dana Sullivan. The NDFU’s mission: encouraging awareness. “We’re concerned that if we don’t get this awareness, we’re not going to have as many people as concerned about maintaining that family farm production system,” NDFU President Mark Watne told NPR’s Lulu Garcia-Navarro.
Topics that came to the fore in their conversation ran the gamut from climate change to politics. “It kind of reinforces the need for the farm programs, the safety nets because we can’t manage the weather,” Watne told Garcia-Navarro. “We can’t always stay out of trade wars. We can’t always get the demand from renewable fuels that we need. And we certainly wouldn’t want to destroy, again, a very, very good system of food production simply because of outside factors that the farmer can’t control.”
Still, when rush hour hits and commuters find themselves behind steering wheels, thoughts drift to tractors. Will they stick with the status quo, or will they seek to solve some of the world’s agricultural issues with aspirations and declarations of, “Bring on the crops, tractors and the cow manure!”
Farm Careers: Sources
NPR: Children’s Book, ‘Our Family Farm,’ Sells Thousands Of Copies
North Dakota Farmers Union