Recently, I received an email with the subject line: “Do you have what the agriculture industry wants?” As that line grabbed my attention, I quickly opened the email. It was from Colorado State University (CSU) regarding online classes.
The CSU email pointed out that more than 57,000 new jobs are slated to open in agriculture, food, and natural resource sectors in the next five years, and there are not enough qualified people to fill those jobs. According to USDA, there will be two jobs open for every qualified person.
Looking to bring in more ag students, CSU is promoting its online ag business program. I’m not going to go into what that entails, but it is important to mention CSU is one of many universities with an ag program. All of these programs need to be promoted.
Let’s think about the future of your farm for a minute. Are you looking down the line when you will not be running the show? Do you have properly trained people who can take the reins and handle the various jobs?
American Vegetable Grower’s recent State of the Industry survey indicated 55% of respondents do not have someone from the next generation prepared to assume a leadership role on the farm. If you are in that 55%, it’s time to bring up this topic with your co-workers and family members who currently have a role in the farm’s operation. While you’re at it, take a stab at discussing other difficult topics, too.
I attended the Mid-Atlantic Fruit & Vegetable Convention in Hershey, PA, last month and the keynote speaker homed in on this subject. Elaine Froese, a family farm coach who also is a partner in Froese Family Farms in Canada, discussed the importance of tackling topics you’d rather sweep under the rug.
She brought up the need for having good communication and being able to talk about subjects such as finances and planning for the future, which includes succession planning.
What struck me was when she mentioned just how costly conflict can be. Froese told the crowd farms that have regular communication and business meetings can be 21% more profitable.
If that number isn’t enough to motivate, just think about how you want your farm to continue for years to come. To do that, make sure the young people you work with (or know) are aware of the opportunities CSU and other institutions of higher learning offer. Get your farm staffed with people who have the proper education to get the job done.
You may not know it, but you do have what the agriculture industry wants. It’s time to make sure the next generation is prepared and has what the industry wants as well.