Spring was an unusually cool and wet one here in the Mid-South, so it’s nice to finally have everything in full bloom and temperatures up where they should be.
Most of you have a young crop on your hands at this point. The season reminds us of other young newcomers around the farm as well. As the May issue is the Pipeline Issue, we’d be remiss not to mention what many of you have in your own familial pipelines – the youngsters running around on your operations.
It’s no secret that America’s farm youth are more often than not the ones who grow up to become America’s agricultural backbone. In light of the changing demographics in America, the task of keeping farm youngsters at home and on the farm becomes an important one.
In recent months, I’ve twice heard national politicians lament the fact that more and more Americans are moving away from the farm and into the city. In January, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack noted that more people are moving out of rural America and into urban areas now than ever before.
U.S. Representative Randy Neugebauer, speaking at the Plains Cotton Growers Annual Meeting in April, said that only 16 percent of the nation’s population still live in rural America. That number highlights the important role that U.S. farmers play in this country. America’s food and fiber producers are becoming a rare breed, it seems. If they do not continue to feed and clothe the nation, there aren’t many left who are up for the job.
The issue, then, becomes one of economic sustainability for America’s farm youth. Like everyone else, they are happy to do a job as long as it is economically viable. This is why the ongoing round of farm bill debates is so important. Without vital safety nets, America’s young farmers have less incentive to stay in the profession.
Organizations like the National Cotton Council and Plains Cotton Growers, among others, are tasked with the job of stressing these points to Congress. Neugebauer, a member of that governing body on Capitol Hill, said as much in his speech in Lubbock.
“Any investment that you’re making in Plains Cotton Growers is a good investment for your business because they are active participants – they are at the table, and they bring their expertise and your feelings,” says Neugebauer. “When they come calling in Washington DC, they are well received.”
I would encourage Neugebauer and his fellow Congressmen to peruse the monthly Kotton Kidz department in the front of our magazine if they ever need a reminder of just who they are working for when they are debating the current farm bill. Many of those youngsters have every motivation under the sun to stay involved in agriculture when they grow up – but they cannot and will not do that if there are no financial assurances. In an atmosphere of fiscal belt tightening on Capitol Hill, we should all hope that Congress remembers America’s farm youth when planning a farm bill for the next four years.