NE Ag Leaders: Challenges Piling Up For Young Farmers & Ranchers


Even with the latest technology, agriculture leaders say challenges for new farmers and ranchers are piling up.

"We're dealing with less land and we're dealing with more people," said Ryan Ueberrhein, who farms near Valley.

Ueberrhein counts himself among the lucky ones. His family farm gave him the tools to break into the business and events like the Nebraska Farm Bureau's Young Farmers and Ranchers Conference help him network and take home new ideas.

But, conference organizers say that's not making starting out any easier.

"Moral support is great, but still you got to find the land that's available," said Young Farmers and Ranchers Committee Chair Shelly Thompson.

That land has cost record amounts in recent years, which means higher property taxes.

"It's very hard for someone like me, trying to get going, trying to raise a family, to have to pay those higher taxes," said Ueberrhein.

"We pay close to $20,000 a year for property taxes," said Thompson. "There's a lot less young farmers and ranchers, so I'm all for paying your fair share but I just don't think the balance we have right now is right."

These young farmers and ranchers are also dealing with a scrutiny their ancestors didn't; which is why they're adding public relations to their chore list.

"If we don't take the time to go tell our story, we're not going to have a story to tell," said Thompson.

"Promoting what you raise, getting and talking to people because it seems like there's a growing bad connotation about what we're doing and it's really not that way," said Ueberrhein.

Though statistics show there are fewer and fewer of them, these young producers aren't backing down.

"You don't back down from a challenge and that's the way I look at it," said Ueberrhein.

The Young Farmers and Ranchers Conference is growing, with more than 220 participants this year.

Organizers said it's becoming a challenge to find venues large enough to host as the event moves across the state from year to year.