Seth Pratt, a 5th generation cattle/livestock rancher and student at the University of Idaho, served as one of the panelists during USFRA’s latest Food Dialogues. Seth is a former National FFA Officer from Blackfoot, ID. and talked with Chuck after the dialogues to share his personal perspective on the next generation of America’s farmers and ranchers.
“Overall, there is a strong sense of optimism. We’ve got a burgeoning middle class across the entire globe that is pushing agriculture product demand in a way we haven’t seen. I think back to my father’s generation who came through college during the farm crisis of the 80′s and the experience he had in school as compared to the experience I now have. And while there may be less farmers overall those that are here today are excited, passionate and optimistic about the career they are beginning.”
During the dialogues, panelists discussed ways to bridge the gap between so many consumers who are at least twice removed from a family farming operation and how to limit the amount of misconceptions. Seth shared one simple idea is to invite people out to your farms and ranches. Let them see the equipment used and let them ask questions about how things are done. Another easy way Seth mentioned is the use of media and especially social media.
“There are two groups of young aspiring producers out there. The ones that say they would love to get back to the family farm or ranch and then there are those who can say they would love to begin. Reaching the needs of those two groups of students is different. Those going back to the farm know what it is like, they know the resources that are available. Those that are new maybe see more closed doors then they do opportunity. There are lots of opportunities provided through government programs administered through the USDA that do give a leg up to beginning producers.”
Seth goes on to say how important it is to connect these students interested in farming with current farmers. A mentor system would go a long way in informing them on the in’s and out’s of life as a farmer or rancher.
You can listen to Chuck’s complete interview with Seth here: Interview with Seth Pratt