Young Farmers Concerned About Growing Disconnect


She grew up on the farm, and Sky Sabatka sees no reason she can't succeed in a male dominated field.

"Being an agronomy major as a female is different," she said with a laugh.

Sabatka says there's no reason women can't be leaders on and off the farm.

She said, "I see it as an opportunity to make a spot for myself as a woman. I had two brothers and two sisters growing up, my dad and uncle both farmed, everybody's involved in agriculture."

Just as she's changing the perception of what an agronomist looks like, Nebraska Farm Bureau's Young Farmer and Rancher group wants to change the public's view of agriculture.

A recent survey of the group found their biggest concern isn't taxes or volatile markets, but the need to tell their story.

"I think it is up to us, entirely," Sabatka said.

Farmers, especially young ones, face huge economic challenges.

Andrea Simon said, "Input costs are very scary, especially when corn was high and input costs went up and corn's down, your profit margin is getting slimmer."

Banker, farmer, and mom of four, Andrea Simon of Burwell says it's worth the financial risk to enjoy the lifestyle.

She said, "Our girls all love farm and ranch, and can do everything we can do."

That survey of this group finds young farmers are concerned they're not portraying that image, that people don't understand modern farming practices.

They're also concerned about the growth in what they see as activist groups opposed to Nebraska agriculture.

Skye may work on the farm, but says she's most interested in a career that engages consumers.

She wants to do, "a lot of ag promotion throughout Nebraska, informing the general public and farmers and ranchers, what they do for our community and our state and nation as a whole, and how much effect is has on everybody."

Farmers in this group say if they don't tell their story, someone else will.

Whether it's the gap from the field to the fork, or the financial picture, young farmers face hurdles.

"But there's still a lot of young people that enjoy the lifestyle and want to keep it going," Andrea Simon said.

These young people say they're facing issues they never ran into growing up, but say they're up to the challenge to reach consumers with their message.