How Does the Next Generation of Farmers and Ranchers Get Started?

Don shares this piece as an opening to a conversation. It's an important one to have. Please share your thoughts, experiences, ideas and suggestions in the comments below. What Do Y'all Think? Donnie, our son, comes by to visit and check on the old people on Tuesday evening and Saturday morning. Last week he was telling me and his mother a story about something that had happened at the Co-op the other day and mentioned the names of two brothers that had done business with him when he ran the sale barn in Baton Rouge. These names meant nothing to me so naturally I asked where their place was located. He explained to me that these two brothers each ran their own outfit. So the next question was, "Do they have good cattle?" He replied well one had a good job at one of the plants in Baton Rouge. So, his cattle were the better of the two. The younger brother’s job didn’t pay as well so his cattle weren’t quite as good. Is this what we have come to in our business - the better cattle will be owned by the folks who have money coming in from something other than the cattle? To the young people who dream of being in the cattle business do we encourage them to get a job or build a career that will enable them to own cattle? I know one young lady who is working two jobs to support her dream of one day being able to make a living with her cattle operation. Do we tell h

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One thought on “How Does the Next Generation of Farmers and Ranchers Get Started?

  1. A very relevant topic Don. The prevelant thinking is that a young person can not get started because the costs are prohibitive. However, we may think that because of where we think the starting point is. The starting point is not running 400 cows with a full set of equipment and owning 1500ac of land. The starting point may be custom grazing 40 cow/calf pairs on 100ac of rented land.
    There are basic skills a person must develop before being able to handle an operation that is capable of financially supporting a family. It is amazing how fast a nest egg saved up from the oil patch can disappear when it is used to buy your way out of mistakes!lol I was asked the other day how two people can move 500 heifers two miles down a county road so easily? My response, “You start with 40!.”
    This fall I hired an apprentice ranch manager with the vision to take my place at some point. Although I am not planning to leave any time soon, it seems to me that it will take 3-5yrs to train a person to step into the role as a manager. That’s 3-5yrs for a person who already has a good understanding of grass management, animal handling, and a good work ethic. It was a surprise to me that there were so few applicants particularly because the salary with benefits is significantly above industry standard. Further, there was only one qualified applicant!
    In every industry there are skills and experience that must be acquired before moving to the next level. If these are not obtained, a person will crash & burn at some point when they reach a senior position. Ranching is no different. So maybe we are looking at the end point and thinking that is the starting point?

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