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New Year’s resolutions for next-gen farmers

Gen Z Aggie: Agriculture will be better off if you keep these easy-to-follow resolutions.

Elizabeth Hodges

November 28, 2023

3 Min Read
2024 in a field
LOOK AHEAD: There are many New Year’s resolutions that are worth keeping for your family, your farm and your community. Arvydas Lakacauskas/Getty Images

There is always next year. This famous line is often heard coming from producers at the end of the year.

If you are anything like me, I have great aspirations to uphold various goals after turning the calendar. Even though I might not always hit the gym or read as many books as I hope to, 2024 is the year that we can accomplish those daunting New Year’s resolutions.

Here are some New Year’s resolution ideas that do not involve stepping on a treadmill:

Join new organizations or run for an office. There is always something that we wish to see changed within the industry. There is no better way to inspire change than joining ag organizations. Getting a new, fresh voice on different boards and committees will not only bring change, but also can help revitalize communities.

Whether you run for a Natural Resources District position, pork producers association office or the local school board, consider joining different organizations in the field you are in.

Increase community involvement. Now that I am ending my college career, I have found how vital it is to give back to my alma mater. FFA has played a tremendous role in where I am today. Not only did it grow my passion for the industry, but it also gave me crucial skills to be a contributing member of society.

I am sure that most of you reading this can confidently say that your ag teacher was your biggest advocate in high school, and the organization has shaped you into the agriculturalist you are today. By sharing your expertise with these youth, you can give them a jump start into their future career in agriculture.

Invite judging teams over. If you have been keeping up with Gen Z Aggie lately, you know how fond I am of various judging teams. FFA, 4-H and collegiate teams alike are always looking for new operations to visit to expand their knowledge of the industry and become more competitive in their respective competitions.

Even if you only have one class of commercial heifers to sort through, the knowledge that you can give to these up-and-coming agriculturists is incredibly valuable.

Clean up those farm records. I am sure organizing farm records is always on your New Year’s goals. But this is not the time to say there is always next year. This year, make record-keeping a priority, whether you manually keep them with pen and paper or have them electronically.

Stop by your local Extension office to pick up a new record book for the year, and do not be afraid to ask these specialists for more resources.

Give your machinery a checkup. With the rise of machinery costs, make it a priority in 2024 to make those small repairs before they become bigger repairs.

In my swine science class that I am taking through Iowa State University, my professor urged us to make these small repairs as they occur. It is easy to ignore them, but even if there is just one screw missing, making that small repair now can save a lot of frustration and money in the future.

Add diversity to your operation. Whether you are a row crop farmer or are a livestock producer, keep an eye out for different ways you can add diversity to your operation. Back home as my brother starts to find new opportunities to bring additional revenue to the farm, he has begun the process of starting up his own custom baling business.

Even though as hog producers we do not rely on hay to feed our livestock, he has seen a need in the community for custom baling operators. He has taken the initiative to start repairing equipment and looking at ways to set up this new enterprise. Think about a need for your operation or surrounding operations where you can add diversity on the farm or ranch.

Start 2024 off strong with achievable and applicable goals for the year. Whether you are helping your community in new ways or getting to those projects you keep putting off, this will be your year.

About the Author(s)

Elizabeth Hodges

Staff Writer, Farm Progress

Growing up on a third-generation purebred Berkshire hog operation, Elizabeth Hodges of Julian, Neb., credits her farm background as showing her what it takes to be involved in the ag industry. She began her journalism career while in high school, reporting on producer progress for the Midwest Messenger newspaper.

While a student at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, she became a Husker Harvest Days intern at Nebraska Farmer in 2022. The next year, she was hired full time as a staff writer for Farm Progress. She plans to graduate in 2024 with a double major in ag and environmental sciences communications, as well as animal science.

Being on the 2022 Meat Judging team at UNL led her to be on the 2023 Livestock Judging team, where she saw all aspects of the livestock industry. She is also in Block and Bridle and has held different leadership positions within the club.

Hodges’ father, Michael, raises hogs, and her mother, Christy, is an ag education teacher and FFA advisor at Johnson County Central. Hodges is the oldest sibling of four.

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