I saw an encouraging report recently about the reading habits of young farmers and ranchers, and it made me think about what lies ahead for agriculture. The article was written by Jack Semler of Readex Research. According to this group’s latest poll, 81 percent of young farmers under the age of 44 continue to read printed trade magazines. More amazing is that 74 percent of this group turns to ag magazines and newspapers first and then to their local dealer and retailer when they want new information about ag products, equipment, services or suppliers.
I always knew that older farmers were one of the most loyal groups when it came to reading a printed trade publication. But, I had always thought that younger farmers were more tech-savy and not necessarily attracted to printed publications as much as their parents. I must say it’s very good news to know that younger farmers aren’t like other demographic groups. Somebody out there still likes the printed publication!!.
So, what does all of this mean? First, it confirms what I have heard for a long time. This younger generation of farmers admired and appreciated their parents – and they are fearless. Nothing seems to intimidate them. And one of the things they learned from mom and dad is being able to pick up a magazine or newspaper and comfortably read at their own pace. Old habits die hard, and our younger farmers are following that trend quite nicely. Another revealing behavior trend of this group is that while there is genuine affection for reading printed publications, nobody is afraid to be a multi-tasker and embrace technology with confidence. Just call this generation a demographic group that knows how to maintain a bridge to the past while fearlessly embracing the Ipad, Iphone, laptop computer and all forms of social media.
Through the years, I’ve seen further evidence of this remarkable generation of young farmers. On numerous occasions, I have participated in sessions with the National Cotton Council’s Emerging Leaders program. I have seen firsthand how today’s young farmers approach their careers and interact with ag and non-ag audiences. They are bright, articulate and want to continue what their parents started on the farm. But they also are some of the most informed folks I have ever met. They are well-versed on ag issues of today and want to tell their story to anybody willing to listen.
This is the kind of development that gives me a lot of hope for the future of agriculture. Our sons and daughters have learned their lessons well.
They trust the new digital age, but they haven’t forgotten the past.