What’s in Store for the Next Generation?
Who is the face of the “next generation farmer?”
What are the next generation farming issues will they face?
These over-arching themes for the 2012 Ag Summit have emerged as the central focus of discussions by the Task Force that is creating a new strategic plan to guide Kentucky Agriculture in the 2013 – 2018 period.
Young people growing up on farms and in rural communities face an increasingly complex and challenging farming environment. The economics of farming encompasses a wide range of factors, ranging from cost of land, equipment, and inputs, to the cost of meeting environmental and regulatory requirements.
Land ownership itself is an enormously complicated proposition — with succession planning and tax issues at the forefront for families considering whether their children will be the stewards of land they may have held for several generations. And having land alone is not enough: local land use conflicts brought on by urban expansion — even in smaller communities — have added new pressures that must be addressed.
Education and workforce training are increasingly important to current and future Kentucky producers. Successfully managing a farm operation requires a multitude of skills — the ability to be conversant in both technology and even a foreign language. And GPS and remote sensing are here to stay.
Social media and the Internet are becoming the tools of choice for expanding the reach of individual producer’s marketing efforts. They also are becoming a valuable delivery mechanism for promoting and embracing agriculture’s future.
At the same time, new markets present opportunities that could not have been anticipated by an earlier generation of producers— from the most local of enterprises; through agri-tourism, farm markets, and value-added products; to a global perspective on how to sell to distant countries.
Kentucky Agriculture reflects all the unique features of the Commonwealth’s varied landscape. From north to south, east to west, Kentucky’s unique topography, climate, and location give its farmers the opportunity to raise a diverse array of products.
I invite you to join me, the Kentucky Agricultural Council, and our lead sponsor, the Kentucky Agricultural Development Fund, as well as our other state Agriculture leaders for the 2012 Agricultural Summit.
2012 Ky Ag Council Chairman