Evidence mounts that young people are returning to farming in many parts of Canada and the U.S. Can it last? Given demands on their time, slimmer margins, price of land and other obstacles, it’s little wonder young folks have for decades opted for non-farm careers.
That trend, however, has recently shown signs of reversing.
While the 2011 Canadian Census of Agriculture, the most recently released, showed a continued decades-long exodus of youth from farms, more recent anecdotal evidence points to an increase in the number of young producers. Extension agents, dealership staff, farmers and others describe seeing more men and women under the age of 40 at meetings, in their stores and on their farms.
“Lately,” says 26-year-old dairyman Gavin MacDonald of the region near his family’s community of Greenhill, Nova Scotia, “there has been an influx in young people that are really gung-ho to start farming or to continue farming, and that’s a really nice thing to see. I think [they] are interested in farming now because the technology is advancing in everything from milking cows to tractors they use, so it’s a lot different work than just manual labor. Even feed salesmen to tractor salesmen, they’re even getting younger too because there’s now a younger group of farmers.”
There’s now tangible evidence of the same trend in the U.S., albeit, as in Canada, the growth is mostly in the smaller farm sector. The most recent USDA Census of Agriculture—the 2012 edition, released in February—showed a 1.1% increase since 2007 in the number of producers younger than 35. A modest rise, but made all the more substantial when you consider that in 1982 young farmers less than 35 years old comprised 15.9% of the total. The most recent census shows the percentage of producers at just 5.7.
Perhaps these new census numbers and other evidence signal the exodus of young people from farming is abating. For more on the trend and Gavin MacDonalds’ dairy operation, see http://www.myfarmlife.com/crops/budding-trend-young-people-on-the-farm/.
Massey Ferguson Children’s Character “Little Grey Fergie” Opens a Dedicated Attraction at Norway Theme Park
The Land of the Little Grey Fergie – Gråtassland – opened in grand style in Stavanger Norway on 4 June.
This fantastic brand-new attraction area at the Kongeparken in Stavanger is a celebration of the children’s character ‘Little Grey Fergie’ (Gråtass) which is based on an original Ferguson TE 20 tractor. Over the last 20 years the original story of his adventures, written by Morten Myklebust, has grown into two feature film hits, a TV series, several stage shows and DVDs, plus a brand-new production filmed in England which is available on the itnernet and features a full-size live-action tractor.
Ultra-modern technology has been employed at Kongeparken, one of Scandinavia’s foremost theme parks, to ensure Little Grey Fergie comes to life for visitors. “It’s like walking into the movie!” says Håkon Lund, CEO of Kongeparken.
Visitors will be welcomed by the character himself and will also be able to meet the animals on the farm at the petting zoo. An exciting tractor ride takes visitors through the captivating story of Little Grey Fergie and his friends. There are also play tractors and an old country store. Bringing things right up to date, there is the chance to experience one of the very latest Massey Ferguson tractors especially adjusted for kids.
Massey Ferguson Norwegian dealer – Eiksenteret – and the dealership chain are key partners in this exciting new project along with Fantasifabrikken A/S, the production company behind Gråtass.
With the opening of Gråtassland in Stavanger, the Ferguson TE 20 is effectively returning to its origins in Norway. More than 60 years ago not far from the town, Christian Eik started to import the tractor into the country from England. His pioneering work played an important part in laying the foundations for mechanised agriculture in Norway.
“As importers of Massey Ferguson today, we want to make sure that the history of the Little Grey Fergie is embraced, along with the Massey Ferguson brand name,” says Trond Kjempekjenn, General Sales Manager, AGCO Norway/ Eikmaskin a/s. “We have a very good partnership with Kongeparken – Fergie is in the best hands. Gråtassland will be a great place for the whole family to enjoy. Fergie has many fans both in Norway and abroad. Children and grown-ups alike can now share their fun with him as he returns ‘home’ to Stavanger.”
One of the best arrays of AGCO products in New Zealand was on display at the recent Central New Zealand Customer evening held in Manfield and attended by a large gathering of 325 customers and dealer staff.
The event was an initiative of four local dealers – TFM Tractors, TRC Tractors Fielding and FieldTorque – presenting the audience with the Iseki brand and the surprise unveiling of the new MF6600 Series 120-140hp and Fendt 500 Vario 125hp-165hp tractors.
Also in attendance was AGCO staff, who offered a detailed overview of the new Fendt and Massey Ferguson tractors.
But it wasn’t all serious business – the audience was also entertained with a video of a “Top Gear” inspired hot lap that saw the Iseki, MF6600 and Fendt 500 go head to head at the nearby Manfield race track, followed later in the evening by a uniquely local comedic performance.
While it was a great opportunity to introduce exciting new product ranges, the evening was just as much a celebration for customers and a chance for dealers to show their appreciation of their support.
AGCO Australia staff invited to present and enjoy the evening were impressed by the great atmosphere and overwhelming support shown buy the large number of attendees.
“This has probably been one of the best dealer events I have attended. It was great to see the professionalism and dedication of the New Zealand dealers that organised the evening and the large number of customers that came along and had a great time”, said Paul Darcy, Director of Sales AGCO Australia.
Special mention was reserved for TRC, who were elevated to four star dealer status as part of AGCO’s program of dealer development.
AGCO Australia would like to thank TFM Tractors, TRC Tractors Fielding and FieldTorque for the great event and all New Zealand customers that participated.
While European agriculture continues to invest in large, capital intensive, fully specialised industrial farms, many young farmers cannot and do not want to build their future on this model. Currently more than 55% of European farmers are over the age of 55 and want to retire within the next ten years. Yet, only 7% of the conventional and 10% of the organic farmers in Europe are under the age of 35.*
There is a growing crisis in farming, as a generation of farmers grows older, with no one to take over from them when they retire. Many farming families find that their children don’t want to follow in their footsteps, so when ageing farmers stop farming, farms often cease to be used for agriculture. But as farms and farmers disappear, our food security is increasingly threatened. Fewer people have the critical skills to produce food, farmland goes out of production and countries become over-dependent on imports. The statistics above illustrate a pressing need, both to draw young people back into farming and to provide them with access to land they can farm.
Are you concerned about where the farmers of the future are going to come from? Do you feel the industry needs to do more to attract young students? Are your own children aiming for a life in the city, rather than one in the country?
If so, come to the Inspire Pavilion at Cereals 2014 and support the event’s aim to put careers in agriculture firmly on the map.
The Arable Event, Cereals 2014 takes place on 11-12 June in Cambridgeshire, UK. This year, the Inspire Pavilion is sponsored by Massey Ferguson as well as De Lacy Executive and McDonald’s. Its aim is to provide an opportunity to showcase the vast number of great career opportunities available across the industry.
Massey Ferguson’s very own Campbell Scott, Director, Sales Engineering and MF Brand Development, will be there to speak frankly and passionately about the future of farming and the support that Massey Ferguson hopes to provide for the next generation.
Not only that, Massey Ferguson will also be talking about future careers within the industry. Ben Agar, Manager, Marketing Services UK & EIRE, will be there to offer guidance and to talk about the opportunities in global careers within the agricultural sector.
There will be a full programme of seminars and workshops and some practical sessions where help will be offered with preparing CVs, preparing for a job interview, and using social media to find that all- elusive job.
Over lunchtime there will be a panel of young farmers who will tell stories to inspire new entrants, and there’s a #studentfarmer session too. This area – 4th Avenue – has a good selection of agricultural colleges promoting the courses they have on offer, and details of available apprenticeship schemes, so make sure you find your way to this part of the event.
Another first for Cereals is the new CPD trail, a great opportunity for visitors to gain up to 12 BASIS or 8 NRoSO points in a single day’s visit.
Find out more about Cereals 2014 on their website www.cerealsevent.co.uk.
*Information sourced from The Sustainable Food Trust
At AGCO, we strive every day to improve the quality of life for people in the communities where we operate, here in the United States and around the world. As a result of our efforts and those of other leading companies, the business community has helped to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, improve energy efficiency, conserve water and protect the environment – achievements that not only benefit Americans, but people in all countries.
A new Business Roundtable report, “Create, Grow, Sustain: Celebrating Success,” highlights the remarkable results of the sustainability efforts of 150 companies, including AGCO, which are driving investment, economic growth and job creation – while simultaneously improving the communities where we work and live.
Here’s one example of how we are ensuring a sustainable future for generations to come:
AGCO’s Fuse Technologies, our global technology platform, delivers leading-edge precision agriculture and communication solutions through seamless innovation, integration and enhanced optimization — resulting in input optimization and improved yields.