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April 24, 2019

Beginning Rancher Loans and Education: Supporting Today’s Youth

Learn why agricultural education is critical to the success of the next generation of farmers and ranchers.

If you’re unsure of how important agricultural education is to the continued success of our nation’s agriculture industry, consider this: according to the 2012 U.S. Census of Agriculture, 97 percent of the 2.1 million farms across the country are family-owned and operated. On those farms, the average age of principal operators is 58.3 years old, which means retirement is likely on the horizon—and that’s where the next generation comes into play.

In order for these farms to continue thriving, it’s often up to younger generations to step up to the plate and carry on the responsibilities of the operation. Thanks to organizations like FFA and 4-H, the family farm tradition is living on. These two nationwide programs provide students the opportunity to interact with agriculture in a focused and guided format, helping younger generations interested in agriculture as a career path, by setting them up for a lifetime of success in the industry.

Ag Ed Organizations Support Future Generations of Farmers and Ranchers

More than 669,000 members in over 8,600 chapters across the U.S., Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands are part of FFA, which also includes more than 13,000 agriculture educators, as well as a strong network of alumni and supporters. With chapters in 24 of the 25 largest U.S. cities, FFA focuses on preparing today’s youth for tomorrow, working to help members grow into leaders while building communities and strengthening agriculture as a whole.

Another important youth ag organization is 4-H, which aims to empower youth with the skills to lead for a lifetime through programs in agriculture, STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math), healthy living, and civic engagement. In 2017, 4-H served 6 million youth across the U.S., comprised 500,000 adult and youth volunteers, and currently holds the title of America’s largest youth development program.

Both FFA and 4-H target agricultural enthusiasts, as well as students without an agricultural background – and members have ample opportunities to engage in hands-on ag experiences. For example, many young people in FFA and 4-H choose to raise animals for livestock shows, an endeavor that requires a great deal of work and dedication and teaches responsibility in a way that few other activities can achieve.

To prepare animals for summer 4-H and FFA shows, students must train them to perform as desired in the ring, and it’s important for students to practice with their livestock regularly. Additionally, students work as a team with their animals, which will make the animals more comfortable around others and likely result in a better showing experience when the time comes. Students are tasked with training their animals to lead and stand correctly, and they must ensure each animal has a healthy, well-maintained, clean coat, and a tidy stall or pen—plus constant access to food, water, and ventilation.

FFA and 4-H members also learn valuable skills such as public speaking, writing, organization, utilizing peer networks, and advocating for agriculture. Many students are learning financial literacy that will undoubtedly serve them in the future if, and when they pursue agribusiness opportunities.

Agricultural education is reaching college students, too, with college-level agriculture programs taking the principles of FFA and 4-H to the next level by offering opportunities for professional development in ag leadership, service, and social engagement. These students often go on to join their local Farm Bureaus, which typically partner with and support 4-H and FFA programs in their respective states and communities.

AgAmerica Lending Invests in Youth Education in Agriculture

At AgAmerica, we’re proud to support agriculture and ag education in its many forms, including our intern program. Our team members also regularly attend events such as the Young Farmers and Ranchers Leadership Conference, and we’re encouraging farmers and ranchers to connect with—and inspire—the younger generation (and be their own agvocates) through modern technology.

Furthermore, AgAmerica understands that the millennial generation are critical for successful farm succession, and we’re doing our part to bridge the gap between these young farmers and their elders in the Baby Boomer generation.

Grow Your Agribusiness with a Custom Loan From AgAmerica

As the nation’s premier land lender, AgAmerica provides custom loan packages including beginning rancher loans, crafted to help family farms grow, diversify, and expand their operations for long-term success that will last for generations to come. If you have any questions regarding a customized loan package to meet your agribusiness’ unique needs, contact us today to speak with one of our team members.

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