A new unofficial survey from the Nebraska Farm Bureau has found Nebraska's young farmers and ranchers are excited about the growing use of technology in agriculture today, but are also concerned about the growing public disconnect with where food comes from and how it is raised.
The organization conducted the non-scientific survey during its Young Farmers and Ranchers Conference held in Grand Island last week. More than 200 young farmers and ranchers from across the state attended the conference.
"The use of technology to improve production practices on the farm and to allow us to better protect the environment – our land and water – and grow more with less is important," shared Todd Reed, chair of Nebraska Farm Bureau's Young Farmers and Ranchers committee. "Having instant access to information and incorporating communication tools into agriculture is the ‘new normal' and that's not going to change."
The survey found that 52 percent of the young farmers and ranchers polled believe the most exciting part about being involved in agriculture involve the growth in technology for precision farming, machinery and the seeds themselves.
On the other side, nearly 25 percent said their greatest concern is the growing public disconnect with farming and ranching, including the negative publicity surrounding some farming practices.
"Nebraska Farm Bureau's Young Farmers and Ranchers Conference
serves as a forum for a new generation of producers. A generation that's
standing face to face with some issues they never ran into growing up on the
farm -- telling their stories to consumers," explained Reed. "If we aren't telling our story
somebody else will. And if we don't tell our story, we're not going to have a
story to tell at some point."
Other areas producers said is of concern to them include the growth in activist groups opposed to modern farming practices, the expansion of government regulations on farm operations and the challenges associated with getting young people back onto Nebraska's farms and ranches.