Young Farmers Must Be Proactive

Fodder for Thought

Government isn't the answer for new farmers but it needs to get out of the way.

Published on: April 25, 2012

Michael Jordan once stated, "Some people want it to happen, some wish it would happen, others make it happen."

After last week’s blog post, I feel there’s something I need to clarify for my readers. You see, I think I may have sent the wrong message with a particular statement I made. I made reference to the USDA and other groups and my opinion that they should focus less on their exaggerated "epidemic of aging farmers" and more on young, would-be farmers.

It seems my generation (Millennials) gets stereotyped on occasion. We get, "You’re entitled. You’re narcissistic. You have no work ethic." Sometimes I think the accusers may be right. Some of my generation is exactly what the stereotypes imply. They’d rather sit around complaining about why they can’t get ahead in life, making up excuses for the lack of ambition and success. These folks would rather blame the government for all their problems, start "occupy" movements, and then say the government should fix all our problems.

Well, I’m not among that group. I don’t think anyone owes me anything, especially the government. While a shift of focus by USDA and other groups to young, would-be farmers might sound like a good idea, it's not the solution. We (young farmers) need to take responsibility for ourselves, our lives, and make it happen. Sitting around waiting for some government program to come along and make your farming and ranching dreams a reality is a futile endeavor. They can barely run themselves; I certainly don’t need them coming along making a mess of my life and my farm as well.

To be successful in farming and ranching you have to be proactive. You need to set goals for yourself. Develop a plan, stick to it, even when times get tough. Becoming a success in farming and ranching is no easy feat.

My friend Doug Ferguson of Beatrice, Nebraska, is a testament to this. He operates a very successful feedlot and backgrounding yard.  His grit and determination to be successful at what he does is impressive and I think in part is one of the many reasons why he has done so well.  However, it was not an easy process. It involved a lot trial and error, careful planning, and seeking out the best to learn how to be the best for him to get where he is today. I highly recommend his blog where he shares among other things, some of his insights into getting started in the cattle business.

Remember, some people dream of success ... others wake up and work hard at it.