By Timothy Collins, Chair, KC Young Farmers & Ranchers
The Young Farmers and Ranchers started off the year with the return of our annual Basque Crawl event. This event is one of our most well attended and serves as a membership drive for the group. After being unable to hold the event last year we were excited to bring it back and had nearly 30 people attend this year. We met at Wool Growers and following our meeting we all enjoyed a fine Basque dinner. As I looked around at our group, I thought about what is meant by being a farmer or rancher and realized we represented quite a variety of different jobs; yet all of them are part of the agriculture industry. This next generation of farmers and ranchers reflects an industry that’s grown more diverse than ever before.
When I’m around my friends who aren’t part of the ag industry, it’s not uncommon for them to say “but you’re not a farmer” when I tell them I’m part of Young Farmers and Ranchers. It’s true that for much of our community their view of the ag industry is different from reality. The image they have of farming is basically that of my grandparents when they farmed in Minnesota. My grandpa spent his life on a small midwestern family farm in the middle of the twentieth century. They farmed a couple hundred acres of corn, oats, beans, and alfalfa with three old Farmall tractors. Most of this was used to feed their pigs, chickens, and dairy cows, which of course were milked in a big gambrel roof barn. The farm was just enough for one family to run and stay self-sustaining.
It’s hard to fault so many people when this is still the image of farming perpetuated in movies or advertising. However, this picture could hardly be farther from what modern farming in Kern County looks like, and it certainly doesn’t encompass the entire agriculture industry. In YF&R today we have members that work in sales, banking, real estate, labor contracting, equipment service, safety, quality control, education, and more; not to mention, those that do directly work with livestock or crops. And yet, all of us are part of the Kern County agriculture industry.
The industry has indeed changed drastically in the last century. We may lament the loss of the small family farm in many ways, but we can be proud that because of the agriculture industry’s ability to grow and innovate the old fears of overpopulation and resulting starvation proved to be false. We produce more food with less land than ever before, and it takes a group of professionals as diverse as ours to make that happen. So, you don’t have to be a “farmer” to be part of YF&R, but you do need an appreciation of the industry that for millennia has made life itself possible. As twenty-first century young farmers and ranchers, we work to keep Kern County’s ag industry growing and innovating to meet the challenges of tomorrow.
Please reach out to us if you would like to join our email list to receive information about upcoming events. We are also active on both Facebook and Instagram.
Please reach out to us if you would like to jump on our email list to receive information about upcoming events. We are also active on both Facebook and Instagram.