Assessment of young and beginning producer practices in Montana
Tintzman, Tyler William
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The agricultural industry is at a turning point regarding the labor force in the United States. The average age of the existing labor force continues to increase and fewer young and beginning farmers and ranchers (YBFR) are entering production agriculture. The purpose of this research was to gain a better understanding of the experience of YBFR entering production agriculture and the working challenges they are facing. This phenomenological research study utilized semi-structured interviews with active YBFR in Montana to examine their experiences. Following analysis, seven different themes surrounding the experiences of YBFR in Montana were revealed. 1. Access to land, capital, and equipment is a significant barrier for a YBFR to enter production agriculture. 2. Developing a network of peers and finding a mentor within production agriculture is a valuable tool for a YBFR. 3. The use of governmental YBFR programs has a positive impact on the experience. 4. Crop insurance is a valued risk protection tool for YBFR operations. 5. Support from family members and industry peers positively impacts the financial and intellectual experience of a YBFR. 6. Continuing formal and non-formal education on the latest technologies and industry practices can assist a YBFR in creating a competitive business. 7. A thorough understanding of production costs on an agricultural operation will allow a YBFR to make fact based, objective decisions that lead to a more profitable operation. In conclusion, these seven themes were shared across participants to explain what and how they experienced being a YBFR in Montana. Further research should be conducted to better understand the impact of networking, mentorship, and the costs of production.