Happy National Ag Day from the desk of the CEO
Agricultural awareness is an immense issue facing Americans today. In fact, less than two percent of the American population lives on a farm or ranch. Today, more than a third of U.S. farmers are at least 65 years old or older, half of which are expected to retire within the next decade, according to USDA. Only five percent of farmers are under the age of 35. As Americans continue to move away from the farm, their knowledge and understanding of the intricacies involved in agriculture have regressed. The rural lifestyle is perceived as outlying and detached from today’s technological era. However, agriculture impacts all facets of today’s society, which is why it is more important now than ever to invest in the future of American agriculture.
More than 15 percent (22 million people) of the total U.S. workforce is involved in more than 200 varied careers involving the production, processing and selling of agricultural products. U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack indicates agricultural producers have increased productivity by 262 percent within the past 50 years while using two percent fewer inputs. None of these advancements would have been possible without increased innovation and technology. We in agriculture know that by year 2050 the world will need to double the food supply in order to feed the global population. It’s imperative that we encourage future generations to be involved in the diverse and innovative careers centered around American agriculture.
The sorghum industry takes very seriously the need to develop future sorghum leaders and future agriculturalists. In 2012, the Sorghum Checkoff established a Leadership Sorghum program, which has since resulted in 30 active sorghum proponents from 11 different states. This farmer-only class helps foster the next generation of leaders for the sorghum industry through a grassroots effort. During a 15-month, five-session experience, growers are exposed to all facets of the sorghum industry, including seed production, domestic and international markets plus board and leadership development. Additionally, Syngenta’s Leadership at its Best® program provides National Sorghum Producers’ members, directors and staff the opportunity to partake in leadership development and enhance organizational effectiveness. As representatives of the sorghum industry, we will continue investing in growing leaders, building grassroots and creating ambassadors in hopes of establishing a positive future for sorghum.
We believe it is important to promote the hard work of sorghum farmers who provide a viable crop to meet various needs of our world, whether that’s livestock feed, food aid, ethanol production, exports, or consumer choice. We must stand together as a unified industry in order to sustain the success of our future generations. While sorghum is only one piece of the puzzle, we would like to say thank you to all agricultural producers for their commitment to providing the food, fiber and fuel that impact consumers daily and continue to advance the industry forward.
National Sorghum Producers and Sorghum Checkoff CEO