Who Will Be the Next Generation of Farmers?
When I visit with folks in our community about farming and mention that not many young people are interested in becoming the next generation of farmers, I often get this response: “As long as I can go to the local grocery store, I will always have food to eat.” The disconnect between where we buy our food and where it actually comes from, which is the land and farmers who grow and raise it, is common throughout our community, state and nation. Farmers work every day, including weekends, to plant the seed, grow and harvest the crops, and feed and care for the animals that provide our food supply. Farming is a business, with challenges ranging from uncertain weather to markets, governmental policy and regulations. I am proud of the young farmers we have, but I don’t see enough entering the profession to carry on the responsibility of growing food and fiber. In my county, there were 457 farms 30 years ago. Today, we have only about half that number. At the same time, the acreage available to farm in Lee County has declined 25 percent. But farmers today are a testimony to our industry – we are increasingly productive and more efficient on the land that does remain in agriculture. God has certainly blessed my family and me in the business of producing abundant and quality food. I am optimistic that the next generation of farmers, although fewer in number, will continue to carry on this important responsibility for our nation and the world.
John Cameron has farmed for 50 years in Lee County, growing soybeans, tobacco and grain sorghum. He is also president of the Lee County Farm Bureau.