I often ask myself, “Who is the future of agriculture, and what does it look like?” I’ve been fortunate to see a significant amount of change involving agriculture in the past few decades, including technology, commodity prices, and input costs, just to name a few. I certainly know, no one likes change, myself included, but, when change is for the betterment of this industry, it’s one thing we learn to accept. As for the future of agriculture, I don’t know what technology will look like, how high cattle prices will be, or how corn prices might fluctuate; but, I do know WHO holds the future of agriculture.
I’m proud to say my generation, including my friends, and myself, are the future of agriculture. I didn’t grow up on a large cattle operation that’s been handed down for generations, or farmland that’s been worked for years. But, as a young boy I discovered a burning passion and knew immediately agriculture was in my blood.
Growing up, I idolized my friends’ family farms – they worked cattle on horseback, followed a long windrow of freshly raked hay, and saw the land be cultivated behind a disc. I often dreamed of having my own little piece of paradise with rolling hills full of cattle, a barn sitting atop a hill, and the best working facility money could buy. I can remember laying awake night after night wondering how I could ever achieve my dream. I didn’t have the kind of money it took to fulfill this dream, and certainly wasn’t capable of doing any of this on my own. I was uncertain of what my parents would think about my dream, but knew they would be the biggest support system I could ask for in achieving it. My parents surely didn’t have to, but they took a chance on a kid that had a big set of goals and ambitions. To this day, I am forever grateful for the risk they took, the countless hours, dollars spent, the sweat shed, just to see me accomplish what I had always dreamed of doing.
Fast forward to today, my wife and I, along with my parents, own and operate a purebred Angus and Simmental seed-stock operation. Although we still have a long way to go, I am grateful for where our program is today. It’s not the biggest operation with the best working facility, or the prettiest rolling hills east of the Mississippi, but it is our own piece of paradise. I knew from an early age there was something special about the agricultural industry as a whole, and I had to be a part of it.
The percentage of farmers in the world is declining each day, and it’s up to this generation, my generation, to fill that gap. As young farmers and ranchers, we are responsible for insuring the rapidly growing population has food on the table and clothes on their backs. Whether you grew up on your family’s ranch, or you’re starting from scratch like myself, take a leap of faith and become a part of this great industry. Together, as young farmers and ranchers, we can make a difference. Whether you’re a small vegetable farmer at the end of a county road or the largest row crop farmer in the Mississippi Delta, WE are the future of agriculture.
About the Author: Will Gibson is the Regional Manager for Region 2 at the Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation.