FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
February 2, 2016
Sarah Schultz, Young Invincibles
firstname.lastname@example.org, 202 734 6510
Laura McCarthy, Global Prairie
New Report Finds Millennials are Uniquely Prepared to Transform Farming and Tackle Challenges Facing Agriculture Industry
[WASHINGTON] – At a time when the agriculture industry needs it most, a new report shows the next generation of America’s farmers and food producers are ready to tackle challenges with new thinking, skills sets, collaboration and early adoption of new technologies.
Based on a nationwide listening tour, the inaugural FarmNext report captures first-hand perspectives of Millennials entering and shaping today’s agriculture industry. The report was released today at a national youth summit in Washington, D.C., convened by the report’s authors and organizers, YI Advisors and Global Prairie.
Over the next twenty years, nearly half of the farmland in the United States will change hands to younger generations, leaving young farmers to face the most pressing agricultural issues in our country, including an aging workforce, economic considerations, and polarizing views on food production and the role of technology in helping to feed and clothe our growing global population.
The FarmNext report finds that Millennials are uniquely prepared to help bridge the gap between the industry and public perception on these issues. Thanks to generational trends such as a tendency toward collaboration, interdisciplinary skill sets, and early adoption of new technologies, Millennials entering the agriculture workforce want to do business differently from older generations. In particular, the report finds, this new generation has a strong desire to work together as part of a global community and to address hot button issues like environmental policies, animal rights, controversial technologies, and GMOs in a fresh and direct way. Many are more comfortable with nuanced positions on these issues and are more open to collaborating to find solutions.
“We should be optimistic about today’s young farmers and agriculture students, and their ability to tackle future problems,” said Tom Allison, author of the FarmNext report and Deputy Director of Policy & Research for Young Invincibles. “While agriculture is still a challenging sector, young farmers are thinking about the industry differently, want to push the boundaries, and are bringing their unique generational experiences to the work.”
“We couldn’t be more encouraged from what we heard on the tour,” agrees Catlin O’Shaughnessy Coffrin, Editor of the FarmNext report and Director of Client Service at Global Prairie. “At a time when the world’s food needs are demanding more of our producers and interest grows in the origins and production of that food supply, the Millennial generation has an incredible opportunity to help bring new perspectives,and to shape the dialogue for the future.”
There are more reasons to be optimistic. America’s college students are also majoring in agriculture studies more than ever before and at higher rates than in the last fifteen years. Bachelor’s degree recipients majoring in agriculture grew 39 percent in a five-year period (2008-2013), over double the rate of bachelor’s degree as a whole.
The report explores the following key areas and findings:
- Public perceptions of farming: Young farmers feel the media and the public fundamentally misunderstand the challenges and realities of farming. Young farmers feel portrayed as “Jekyll and Hyde,” either representing an unsophisticated or less than modern approach to farming, or corrupt corporate minions poisoning and abusing the land — neither of which are true.
- Technology & innovation: Young farmers are early adopters of the latest technologies and they are transforming how the business of agriculture is done. These technologies reduce costs, increase yields, and are more environmentally sustainable.
- Economics: Despite the challenges, young farmers and agriculture students are very optimistic about farming and agriculture as a career. Young farmers are also inherently entrepreneurial and are looking for opportunities to grow their ideas. Aspiring farmers from non-agricultural backgrounds face steep challenges around accessing and securing the capital to get on and work the land.
- Workforce and education: Students expressed frustration over “disciplinary siloing” and wish that colleges and universities would offer more cross-departmental courses, since modern farmers need to skills in the sciences, technologies, business, marketing and beyond. More high quality internships with hands-on experience are also needed.
To learn more about the initiative, and to download a copy of the report, please visit www.farmnextgeneration.org
About YI Advisors
YI Advisors is a full-service consulting firm for clients that want to reach, activate, and serve Millennials while creating real change. As the consulting arm of Young Invincibles – the nation’s leading youth organization – our team brings years of experience in engaging Millennials across a variety of industries.
About Global Prairie
Global Prairie is a global marketing firm dedicated to cultivating a healthier world. We do this two ways. First, we develop impactful marketing solutions exclusively for clients whose businesses improve the health of people, communities or the environment. Second, as a certified Benefit Corporation (B Corp), we believe that our success is defined by making a positive impact on society, in addition to making a profit.