Younger generation continues to choose corporate life over farm life


SEDGWICK COUNTY, Kan. (KSNW) – Labor data shows younger generations are choosing the corporate world over the farming world.

Farming is a way of life for Josh Patterson.

“I can’t think of any better life,” said Patterson. “It’s in my blood.”

Patterson, 29, is a 5th generation farmer. He said he couldn’t imagine his life in the city. However, it’s becoming more common for people born into farming to choose a different career path.

“It’s sad because when my grandpa and dad were starting to farm, you know, all of the farm kids seemed to go back home to the farm, but see that was 30, 40 years ago when it didn’t take as much capital. In today’s market place it’s really hard to get started,” Patterson said.

Farmers average age has continued to increase. For principal operators, average age increased 2 percent between 2007 and 2012, according to the United States Department of Agriculture. The USDA said 61 percent of principal operators are 35 to 64 years, and 33 percent are 65 and older.

According to the United States Department of Labor there will be about 18,100 fewer agriculture manager jobs by the year 2024 which is about a 2 percent decline from the year 2014.

“We’ve got farmers around here that are just getting bigger and bigger because there’s not enough young people around to want to farm,” Patterson said.

Patterson admits it’s financially difficult to get started in the farming business, however he said he’s concerned if more young people don’t become farmers, the big companies could soon control a majority of the nation’s farmland.

“To me, it’s scary because you know in one sense or another we are going to get corporate farms out of this and that’s a bad thing for everyone. It takes all of the family values out of it,” he said.

Due to government regulations and the want to spend more time with family, the Patterson’s shut down their long-time dairy operation on Thursday.

“Our milk barn opened up on January 1st, 1981, long before I was even born so, you know, to me that’s all I’ve ever known growing up. It’s amazing, but we ended August 3, 2017. We operated for 13,355 days,” Patterson said.

Patterson said his family milked about 1.85 million cows and produced nearly 9 million gallons of milk during the more than 36 years in operation.

“Kind of a bittersweet moment on the farm,” he said.

While, Patterson admits it’s sad to see the dairy operation go, he said he and his family are looking forward to the future on the Patterson Family Farm.

“We will convert it into a feed lot so that we can continue to provide safe and delicious beef for the American population.” he said.

Patterson said he’s already working with his 8-month-old nephew and 3-year-old nephew about taking over the family farm one day.

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