USA Today recently released its U.S Department of Agriculture Special Edition, shining a light on rural communities, the ag industry, and those who keep the field thriving. One article, specifically, addresses diversity.
Referencing the 2012 Census of Agriculture, conducted by USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service, the article states that “of the country’s 3.2 million farmers, nearly 96 percent are white, and out of all farmers, 70 percent are male.” These statistics prove that there is still work to do when it comes to drawing in more diverse workers.
Titled “A Colorful Future,” the article highlights various aspects of diversity within agriculture and the organizations that are continuing to grow and empower diverse populations in the space.
“If the U.S. agriculture industry expects to thrive and innovate to meet future demands,” states the author, “American farmers need to be as diverse as the crops they grow.”
Within the agriculture industry, there’s a need to bring innovation to the field, which means fostering a future of ag that uses today’s and tomorrow’s technology to help improve and strengthen industry practices in farming. Exploring this path means refreshing industry talent. Inspiring ag exploration and developing interests at an early age helps grow the pool of future farmers who will soon inherit land, take over local and family businesses, and hold positions within agri-business corporations.
On the importance of creating a pipeline of future farmers, National 4‑H Council President & CEO Jennifer Sirangelo said, “Increasing diversity among farmers and other agriculture professionals will play a key role in driving the innovation, creativity and determination that will be needed to increase feed production, reduce waste, and improve infrastructure in order to sustainably feed 9 billion people in 2050.”
For more than 100 years, 4‑H (through USDA) has developed programming that encourages kids and teens to explore ag topics through hands-on experiences, in-school and out-of-school learning, and curriculum. Every opportunity to perform a project, show an animal, or plant a crop is a vehicle towards growing tomorrow’s farmers and agriculture leaders.
Pick up a copy of the free 2019 edition, available on newsstands now.