Road Warrior

Enthusiastic About the Future of Agriculture: Top-10 List, Number 1

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To conclude my top-10 countdown, here is my number one reason to be enthusiastic about agriculture.

Number 1: The Combination

The final reason I am optimistic about agriculture is not one specific reason. It is a combination of reasons based upon my travels, interaction with people and general observations from my past experience and vision into the future.

The combination starts with “the commercial.” Most of you know what I’m talking about. Yes, I had heard Paul Harvey’s “God Made a Farmer” monologue before Super Bowl Sunday, but on that day while sitting on the couch with my two Labrador retrievers, I wondered where the commercial was going with it. My first thought was that this would be a dud on the Super Bowl ad meter. Someone at Dodge was brilliant because the commercial touched not only those in rural America, but many people throughout the country. It was an emotional, touching piece that provided a glimpse of the lifestyle of many of us that are involved in the agricultural industry. My challenge to everyone is to create future commercials that “speak” to the declining ag and rural population, to the rest of America and to the world. I am sure some of our young 4-H, FFA and youth leadership groups will be up to the challenge.

The second part of the combination is the young people I interact with in agriculture. In recent years, more youth, women and minorities are sincerely interested in agriculture and rural business entrepreneurship. This new energy that is being spurred on by educational leadership venues sponsored by lending institutions, agribusinesses, cooperatives and other efforts is very encouraging to many of us involved in agricultural education.

These new participants are thinking globally, and realizing that by 2050 we will need 100% more food fiber and fuel, with 95% of it being consumed by individuals outside the North American continent. It is encouraging to see older participants in some cases sponsoring and mentoring youth to prepare them for the challenges and opportunities ahead.

While the production agriculture industry may be small in number, it has a wide footprint with one in six people employed directly or indirectly in an agricultural-related field.  Whether it is farming on the rooftops in L.A. or Chicago, growing produce organically, managing a large commercial farm or any type of agricultural venture in between, agriculturalists have many commonalities to build upon and present a positive message about our industry with a united front. The biggest challenge will be to execute and follow through.

If one cannot get excited about agriculture after reading this series of my top 10 reasons, maybe the agriculture industry is not for you. If you are optimistic about agriculture, join the journey with all of its joys and struggles for a better tomorrow.

What are some reasons you are enthusiastic about agriculture? I would like to see your comments!

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What's Road Warrior?

Dave Kohl is an ag economist specializing in business management and ag finance. He can be reached at sullylab@vt.edu.

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