Tuesday, August 05, 2014

Newsletter highlights 50 farmers under 50

The Census of Agriculture found that the average age of farmers has risen from 57.1 to 58.3 from 2007 to 2012, and the number of farmers 75 or older has risen from 243,472 to 257,697. In response, Agri-Pulse, a Washington newsletter, asked its readers to "tell us about bright young people they’ve seen at work in recent years—men and women under 50 from across the nation, involved in all types of crop and livestock operations—who are stepping into leadership roles, spreading the word about what matters to rural America and promoting causes important to today’s agricultural and rural," Ann Tracy Mueller writes for the newsletter. Agri-Pulse selected 50 farmers to highlight. To see the entire list, click here. Here are some that made the list:

Ryan Bivens
Ryan Bivens, 35, Hodgenville, Ky., is a first-generation farmer, growing soybeans, corn and wheat. Bivens grew up hearing farmers couldn’t make it unless they were in a farm family or married into it, but he got his start growing corn and soybeans as an FFA project. When Bivens finished college, got married and was ready to farm full-time, he ran an ad in the paper advertising that a young, energetic farmer was looking for land to rent. The ad was answered, and he was soon farming 500 acres. Bivens made sure land he farmed looked sharp and put roadside signs in his fields touting “another quality crop” from Bivens Farms.

Ben Boyd
Ben Boyd, 37, Sylvania, Ga., whose family has farmed in Georgia for five generations on one side and six on the other, has a farming operation diversified beyond his main crop, cotton. He also raises cattle, corn, hay, oats, peanuts, rye, soybeans and wheat. Boyd says he, his wife and one-year-old son live “13 miles from a Coke or a gallon of gas.”

Tamara Choat
Tamara Choat, 36, Terry, Mont., and her husband raise cattle and horses and own a butcher shop and meat processing plant. She and her husband left corporate jobs in Indianapolis three years ago to move to Montana to raise cattle. They’re now raising young children as well and running their meat processing business.

Miguel Diaz
Miguel Diaz, 27, Alamosa, Colo., raises potatoes and barley and serves on the National Potato Council board of directors. Diaz admits that as a student he didn’t pay much attention in government class in high school, but he understands today the importance of getting his industry’s grassroots messages to lawmakers and their staffs throughout the year. He credits some of this understanding to his industry’s program to help develop young leaders, the Potato Industry Leadership Institute. Diaz says, “Leadership programs are amazing!”

Odessa Oldham
Odessa Oldham, 22, Lander, Wyo., a member of the Navajo tribe, started raising her own sheep herd when she was three years old. These days she has 200 head of cattle, attends the University of Wyoming and works to encourage and inspire the next generation of Native American farmers. While in high school, Oldham was the first Native American to run for the National FFA board.

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