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Young Farmers Offer New Enthusiasm

Tommy Horton

By Tommy Horton, Editor

We have known for a long time that young cotton farmers are different from their fathers in many respects. Maybe that’s a generational fact of life on the farm, but there is no denying that we are witnessing a remarkable transition today in agriculture. The young farmer isn’t afraid of change, and he certainly isn’t intimidated by technology and all of the bells and whistles that go along with it.

I mention all of this because of our cover story about South Carolina producer Jason Waltz. He and many other young farmers are tackling ag issues with a new approach and perspective. If anything encourages me about the future of agriculture, it’s the way this younger generation has embraced farming. These folks appreciate the past but are forging their own path in the process.

Waltz is like many in his generation. He is aggressive in all aspects of farm management decisions and isn’t afraid to try new varieties or techniques – if they increase yields and fiber quality. I met him at an industry meeting in December, and I was very impressed by his calm but positive attitude.

Maybe it comes with youthful enthusiasm, but Jason isn’t disturbed about low cotton prices. Concerned? Yes. However, he is moving full throttle toward scrutinizing every dollar he spends and finding ways to be profitable. I was particularly impressed when he talked about how he’d love to duplicate the huge yields that producers in the West and Southwest often achieve.

He knows that he isn’t likely to deliver a six- or seven-bale crop anytime soon. But he likes to think big and push the envelope. It never hurts to have dreams that other folks might deem ridiculous. And that is what this next generation of farmers brings to the table. They like to solve their own problems and showcase an independence that is refreshing.

Waltz isn’t the only young farmer with this kind of approach to farming. Through the years I have met many others with a nearly identical philosophy. They are a rare combination of the old and new. They learned the basics of farming from their fathers and grandfathers. Now, they are involved in their own careers and are fearlessly moving forward.

Keep this thought in mind. No matter how challenging or insurmountable the odds might seem in cotton production, we have young farmers out there ready to do battle. They make the future seem very promising.

So, can Jason Waltz deliver a seven-bale yield someday? Don’t be shocked if he makes it happen.