Last week we attended the annual CFBF YF&R Leadership Conference held in Modesto, California . It was a fascinating experience and we enjoyed every part of it being that this was our first year of attendance. The tours of the different facilities were beyond anything we could have imagined as well as meeting all of the young farmers and ranchers , those who have taken over from their parents or starting out on their own.
We took the Eastern tour, touring E&J Gallo, Duarte Nursery, Burroughs Family Farms , an organic dairy, almonds, and chickens, and Dutch Hollow Farms, a tulip farm and pumpkin patch. This tour was more interesting to us than the other regional tours because it was specific to grape growing and other small-scale productions. Touring along with us were all sorts of young farmers producing almonds, cherries , peaches , and walnuts. Along with the farmers, commodity and insurance brokers spent time touring Modesto and networking with other next generation and like-minded individuals.
The highlights of the tour included our visit to Burroughs Family Farm, a successful organic dairy surviving the current challenges in this economy and gaining insight into the new styles of grapevines that Duarte is offering producers, especially the UberVine (a 42″ vine composed of an extra long rootstock cane) . Our time at Burroughs Family Farm hit close to home because of the daughter/father dynamic. The daughter and father have worked together in order to transition the operations into organic farming. We have seen this same occurrence especially in grape growing , however, sometimes the transition isn’t as smooth and it is difficult to get our fathers to transition into retirement or to adopt different farming principles or methods.
A constant theme across the whole conference was the renewed interest in family farms and ranches and the generational transition that is occurring in a lot of family businesses including farming .
There were interesting speakers at the conference . A current hot topic within the Ag industry is the release of the water toxicity report in California, attributing chemical fertilizers as the culprit. This is another problem that is in direct relation with the farming methods of previous generations. This current problem paired with lower prices on our products and higher farming costs are issues we have to consider when considering our future in this industry.
On a positive and exciting note, there is a wonderful synergy within the current and next next generation in the ranching and farming industries. It is great to see everyone working together and mentoring the next generation , namely, the children, teenagers, and young adults whom participate in 4-H and FFA. All of us together can definitely pave the way to profitable and superb farming in the future.
Cheers to the retired farmers, the current farmers, the young farmers, and the future farmers of America!