Caleb Krusemark is an overachiever. The Minnesota farm boy started raising Guernseys at age 10 and built a barn from scratch in eighth grade. He was a state FFA leader and high school athlete, a pork and beef industry ambassador and is a member of the North Dakota State University livestock judging team. Most recently, at age 19, he bought 235 acres at auction using his personal savings for a down payment. You can read more about him on page 22 of this issue.
Krusemark is the kind of kid people point to as the future of agriculture. The bar is set very high for the next generation of farmers. Volatile markets, high input costs and barriers to entry, such as land availability and credit, are challenges the last generation of farmers did not face. The sons and daughters who will produce our food, fuel and fiber in the future must be made of smarts, stamina and true grit.
Training is a Must. If we are to feed 9 billion people by 2050, we need to train all the new farmers we can find. One in four farmers today is 65 years or older—a 22% increase from 2002 figures, according to USDA census data. The percentage of farmers younger than 45 dropped 14% during the same period to just 22%.
Knowing the economic prowess it takes to be profitable in agriculture today, I believe we need to train a new generation of “top producers.” We need young producers who not only understand technology but their costs per acre and how to grow sustainably and ethically. We need smart businesspeople with a passion for what they produce.
That’s why we are launching Tomorrow’s Top Producer, an initiative to train and educate farmers 35 and younger about the business skills needed for production agriculture. You will see more articles ahead in Top Producer geared toward young farmers and more educational seminars for young producers with all of our Farm Journal Media properties. A good place to start is the Tomorrow’s Top Producer winter program on Jan. 25 in Chicago. For more information, visit www.TopProducerSeminar.com.
The pages of this issue are geared toward young farmers, but producers of any age can benefit from the business tips and tools discussed. If nothing else, we hope these profiles of young producers will give you hope about the next generation of agricultural producers.
Current top producers are responsible for helping guide the next generation. It is your duty to mentor young farmers as they enter an agriculture industry that is changing more quickly than at any other time in history.
Top Producer, December 2010