Lessing Flynn

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September 22, 2016

Millennials in the Business of Farming

Farmers continually focus on creating the resources that society needs every day to function, but what are their priorities as the entrepreneurs of agriculture? Our Millennial Farmer Research shows the up-and-coming generation is viewing their operations as businesses, not just a farm.

We surveyed 78 young farmers and asked what essential skills were needed to be successful. They rarely mentioned proficiencies in operating equipment or animal husbandry — experience that one might think would be preferred. No, instead, the most important skill to a millennial farmer was unanimously agreed upon as knowledge in business and finance management, followed by marketing and risk management.

Why? Sixty-three percent of millennial farmers consider themselves more business-oriented compared to the older generation, emphasizing that they view their operations as a business with profit and efficiency goals first. And it makes sense doesn’t it? Millennial farmers are forward thinkers — they hope to expand their farm to support their growing families and eventually support their children, nieces and nephews or the next generation to work on the farm. 

The pie chart below illustrates the top skills as reported by the survey:

So, where are these skills coming from? They’re not the easiest abilities to self-teach. That is why 68 percent surveyed said they’re gaining experience working off the farm prior to returning to their roots. Education is another highly valued way to gain outside experience, as 67 percent stated they had at least a two-year college degree. That makes these young farmers twice as likely to have a college degree than the average American!

The bottom line is millennial farmers aren’t just farming; they’re running a business. So, if want to connect with a millennial farmer about more than just the weather (and you should) just speak their language — talk business.

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