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Optimistic young farmers

Optimism among young U.S. farmers and ranchers is rising. In a survey of participants in the American Farm Bureau Federation’s Young Farmers and Rancher program, an amazing 87 percent said they are more optimistic about their work than they were five years ago.

That’s the highest level of optimism in the 19 years of the survey and up from 80 percent in last year’s survey.

Nearly 90 percent said this year that they are better off now than they were five years ago, up from 82 percent last year.

Other results of the survey:

• 96 percent want their children to follow in their footsteps.

• 82 percent believe their children will be able to do so.

Economic challenges were their top concern:

• 22 percent ranked profitability as their No. 1 concern.

• 17 percent put government regulations at the top of their concerns.

• 10 percent ranked tax burdens at the top.

Asked what they think the federal should do, top responses were:

• 17 percent: cutting government spending.

• 13 percent: provide financial help to beginning farmers.

• 12 percent: reform environmental regulations.

The survey also reveal a high level of commitment to the environment:

• 72 percent say balancing environmental and economic concerns is important on their farms and ranches.

• 58 percent use conservation tillage.

Computers and the Internet are tools they use:

• 92 percent use a computer on their farm or ranch.

• 98 percent have access to Internet (74 percent have high speed connection).

• 76 percent use Facebook.

And these young farmers and ranchers believe their work goes beyond their fields and pastures: 74 percent consider communicating with consumers to be a formal part of their jobs.

The AFBF survey was conducted the organization’s leadership conference in February. Participants ranged in age from 18 to 35.

Considering the tough economy of the last several years, it’s encouraging to see so much optimism in the newest group of farmers and ranchers in America. What about you?

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