The world’s population continues to grow. There’s an increased demand for food. Yet fewer farm-grown individuals are returning to dairy farms to carry on the family tradition.
Fortunately, through new sustainable practices, the latest technology, and programs like the U.S. Dairy Education and Training Consortium (USDETC), many dairy farmers are working to combat the hurdles aspiring farmers face, while encouraging the next generation of sustainable dairy farmers.
As universities in the southwestern U.S. reduce or eliminate their dairy programs, USDETC thrives by answering a direct need for skilled agricultural professionals who are knowledgeable of current dairy farm trends and opportunities. In the past decade, USDETC trained more than 400 students from 44 universities in the intensive six-week program, with 67 percent of those graduates now employed on a dairy or working in dairy-related fields. Recently, the USDETC was awarded an honorable mention by the Dairy Sustainability Alliance for those efforts.
Before the next generation even reaches college, they can benefit from many programs, such as FFA and 4-H, which encourage interest in agriculture in youth. By teaching youth about the agricultural industry, animal husbandry and leadership skills, these organizations directly support the growth and continuation of America’s farms. They also provide students with the resources and connections they need to be successful farmers as they grow up.
By encouraging a love of agriculture in today’s youth and helping them stay involved in the field, these organizations ensure that we’ll be drinking dairy for decades to come.