FarmNext recently conducted its national summit to announce results from its 2015 Listening Tour. FarmNext was launched in 2015 “to help elevate the voice of young farmers on a national scale at a time when farming, technology and source of our food is increasingly in the spotlight.”

The three main sponsors of the listening tour were DuPont and CHS Inc. and the American Seed Trade Association. There were 25 additional organizations providing support and insights to complete the project. Involved in doing the research was YI Advisors, a social impact firm specializing in Millennials, and Global Prairie, a global marketing firm; both were instrumental in forming FarmNext.

Several bullet point findings from the tour that focused on Millennials studying or entering the agriculture industry are explained in the 26-page report unveiled Feb. 3 at the summit in Washington, D.C., and released to the public the same day. Bullet point key findings include:

  •   Technology & Innovation
    • Young farmers are driving technological change in agriculture, and will continue to lead adoption and integrate new technologies in their work.
    • The adoption of technology seen today is just the tip of the iceberg
    • Tech is making ag sexy again.
    • Technology has the potential to connect retiring or transitioning farmers with young farmers who often lack the capital to purchase land on the open market
    • An assured positive impact on the farm’s bottom line was the most important factor in an operator choosing to adopt a new technology
  • Economics
    • Access to capital was consistently cited as a major barrier to successfully entering the industry
    • Economic prosperity for farmers and farming communities requires rural economic development.
    • First-generation farmers face unique and significant challenges, but the future of food production also depends on replacing retiring farmers.
  • Workforce & Education
    • Colleges need to reform curriculums to be more interdisciplinary, reflecting the reality of modern farming.
    • Corporations and farm operators need to offer more high quality internships and apprenticeships that state and local governments could incentivize.
    • Our nation’s veterans carry tremendous potential to bring farming into the future.
  • Public Perception
    • The media and industry need to do a better job of telling young farmers’ stories.
    • There is a need for a more realistic perception of the profession, showing the many facets of the job and making it more relatable.

ASTA President and CEO Andrew LaVigne, at the unveiling of the report in front of young farmers, policymakers and industry thought-leaders said, “The seed industry is passionate about reaching out to the next generation of ag innovators. As seed professionals, innovation is at the heart of what we do.”

One of the 25 contributing sponsors, FarmLink, was represented by Kevin Heikes, vice president of products. He told the summit attendees, “The challenges in agriculture today are great, but the opportunities for the next generation of farming are even greater. Transformational advancements in data science and ag technology will catalyze change to improve the overall business health of farming and help solve the global challenges across the food system.”

The FarmNext Listening Tour report can be reached by clicking here.