Agriculture today is much different than it was in past generations, and I would agree that much of this change was for the better. Just as most of us now choose to use computers instead of typewriters, farmer and ranchers too have adopted methods to embrace our new era of technology.
The next generation of agriculturalists are facing some of the greatest challenges we’ve seen thus far. They will need to produce more than ever, with less inputs, on less land, with increased regulations, at a competitive cost. Along with the increased consumer demand for products, we have seen an even greater demand for information from producers. People want to know “where the food is coming from”, “how is it processed”, “is it safe”, etc.
I believe, as a young agriculturalist, that the answer to these questions lies in technology. I have seen how technology has optimized production agriculture thus far, and I foresee the implementation of these programs increasing exponentially. In the future I see a farmer being able to plant his fields without even sitting in the cab of a tractor, and a rancher being able to simultaneously monitor the health of his cattle with just the click of a mouse.
Now with all that being said, I do believe that at the heart and soul of every one of America’s farmer and ranchers is a hard-working individual who takes great pride in what they do. I don’t believe that because my grandfather planted his fields with a horse-drawn planter, that he was any more or less of a farmer than those today that use specialized, intricate 36-row machines. Ultimately, how we do things has and will continue to change, but the passion of these individuals remains the same.
I find myself fortunate to have been raised within agriculture and to have had the opportunity to pursue my passion through my education. As a current student of Agricultural Law I am excited to join the next generation in this industry. I too take great pride in being part of agriculture, and hope to someday be a strong voice for America’s farmers and ranchers within development of agricultural policy. While this is an exciting time for agriculture, I think the best is yet to come.
- Elizabeth Burns-Thompson