If today?s crop of young farmers and ranchers plan to play a part in the future of agriculture, they must position themselves where this industry will be?not where it is.
There are four key considerations young farm and ranch couples must take to heart if they are to reach their full potential. These include: be willing to change; be part of something bigger than yourself; accept the future; and give up your own independence.
Addressing change is something young farmers and ranchers are familiar with. They have no trouble recognizing change?it?s doing something about it that is so difficult. Everyone tends to give change a chance, but when difficulty pops up all of us tend to revert to our old ways of doing things. Change requires new thinking.
Second, we as humans, especially young farmers and ranchers, must strive toward something greater than self-actualization to fulfill our own unique potential. This means challenging ourselves with something bigger than we are. To accomplish anything of greatness, we must work with others.
Agriculture is not just about the local community, the family or the farm and ranch operation. It?s not just about growing crops or raising livestock. Producers must see themselves as part of the food industry, which is the most critical industry in the world.
As far as accepting the future, some people will continue to dig in their heels and think, ?That may be what the future is like, but I want no part of it.?
What alternative is there? We can?t recreate the world in the image we want. Instead, we must identify the world as it?s going to be. In agriculture we must focus on the consumers of our products and not make this an issue about what we?re doing on the family farm. It?s not about us, it?s about the customers we serve.
The fourth block on which to build a future in agriculture is giving up independence. Americans revere their independence. How?ever, unless farmers and ranchers move to interdependence they will not survive.
We can?t be focused on a single issue. We must look at the bigger picture and understand that we?re all in this together. A farmer and rancher cannot remain independent and farm in the future. Produ?cers must be willing to dedicate themselves to a common purpose and impact the world with the help of others.
While these four building blocks may sound simple, implementing them is extremely difficult. Many will fail and start over. Some will not make it. For others it will remain a life-long commitment. The important thing is to begin.
John Schlageck is a leading commentator on agriculture and rural Kansas.