It’s not your grandpa’s farm anymore…or is it?
By: Melissa Runge We have all seen the stereotype of a farmer being portrayed as an older gentleman with a pitchfork in his hand, right? Indeed, if you were to glance at the 2012 US Census of Agriculture report, it...
It’s not your grandpa’s farm anymore…or is it?By: Melissa Runge We have all seen the stereotype of a farmer being portrayed as an older gentleman with a pitchfork in his hand, right? Indeed, if you were to glance at the 2012 US Census of Agriculture report, it...
By: Melissa Runge
We have all seen the stereotype of a farmer being portrayed as an older gentleman with a pitchfork in his hand, right? Indeed, if you were to glance at the 2012 US Census of Agriculture report, it would quickly become apparent that some of those stereotypical characteristics are in fact true. This study reported the average age of a principal farm owner in 2012 was 58.3 years old which is up from the average age of 57.1 years in 2007. This increase in the average age of principal owners has been a trend for more than 30 years, with no perceptible reversal in sight. While most farmers are older than the average population, that doesn’t mean he is carrying a pitchfork; think more along the lines of an iPad.
What does this mean for the farming business? It means those who are farming are getting older and younger farmers are not lining up to enter the business. Times are changing and equipment manufacturers have an obligation to farmers to provide products that ensure this business stays relevant and exciting while not only providing value to existing customers but also attracting new customers. As with most generations, the younger set considers cash as the most important perk of a job. In 2013, Ernst & Young conducted a survey to determine which characteristics were prevalent by generation. This survey included 1,215 cross-company professionals and grouped them into three categories: Millennials–ages 18-32, Generation X–ages 33-48 and Boomers–ages 49-57. Overwhelmingly it showed that cash is still the king of perks.
All of this research suggests that younger generations aren’t lining up to enter the business of large acreage farming for one reason: LACK OF CASH. Not only is it expensive to start a farming operation, if grandpa wasn’t in the business, young people are even less likely to jump into farming. According to a 2016 report from Iowa State University which estimates the costs of crop production in Iowa, the average cost to farm an acre of land was between approximately $600 and $800 per acre. This includes the cost of machinery, seeds, chemicals, labor and land. These ongoing costs are quite substantial and do not include any startup costs, and taken together, they are proving to be intimidating to a young farmer.
AGCO understands the need to attract these potential customers, the young farmer, but also to make our existing customers, including the seasoned farmer, more successful. One way this can happen is through technology. Let’s face it: technology is here to stay and we must embrace it no matter what industry or generation we are in. We are all guilty of getting lost in our phone or computer from time to time; however, for Millennials this is how business is conducted. According to that same Ernst & Young survey, Millennials are regarded as the most tech savvy generation (78%) compared to Generation X (18%) and Boomers (4%). As AGCO continues to grow our Fuse Technologies product portfolio and dealers offer Fuse Connected Services, it is imperative that we keep these characteristics in mind.
By not only introducing new and updated Fuse technologies including guidance, telematics and applications to optimize the farm, the introduction of Fuse Connected Services provides customers service and support to ensure these products are being used correctly. These technologies and services are allowing farms to become more and more technology-driven, which suits the younger, future farmer demographic while also optimizing the farms of existing farmers to improve yields and profitability.
The end result for our customers of all generations will be the same– INCREASED PRODUCTIVITY AND INCREASED PROFIT which in turn will attract more new farmers into the business and keep farming relevant and exciting.
For more information on AGCO’s precision farming products, data management policy and Fuse Connected Services, please visit www.agcocorp.com/Fuse.
Melissa Runge is the global program manager for AGCO’s Advanced Technology Solutions group.