My grandparents’ children left the farm in pursuit of city jobs, but I loved everything about that life. So when I got the opportunity to move in with my grandparents at age 16, I didn’t hesitate.
After college, I made the decision to become a full-time farmer. Today, I live on a ranch about a mile from my grandfather—who is still operating part of his cattle ranch at 89—and hope to be able to one day pass on the skills that he passed on to me.
But many farm families are unable to compete with the lure of the city and are finding it harder to locate that member of the next generation willing and able to bear the torch. Without a new generation of farmers stepping forward, the world’s food supply, and Texas’ economy, will be challenged.
The average age of farmers in America is 58, the oldest at any time in our country’s history. Assuming most Americans retire at 65, that puts us about seven years away from real problems unless more young people shun lucrative desk jobs for riskier, and often lower paying, jobs on farms and ranches.
It sounds scary, and it is. But the idea of investing a future in farming is equally as scary for most young people. The expense of raising crops and cattle, the high risks faced every day, and the low returns on investment, is enough to make anyone run in the other, more secure direction.