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YF&R: Investing in the next generation

Issue Date: February 26, 2020
By Jennifer Beretta
Jennifer Beretta

As we start the decade of the 2020s, California Young Farmers and Ranchers are challenged to "Embrace the Past, Envision the Future." This year's YF&R Conference in Visalia is going to do just that.

As the next generation, we look to our great-grandparents, grandparents and parents for the history of our operations, who we are, and why things are done in specific ways. As we start to get more involved in the agriculture business, step into higher roles in our jobs and take on leadership positions, we are envisioning the future. Whether it's incorporating new technologies, new crops or new treatments to the land, these decisions happen with great research, advice and thought.

I can say with great certainty the next generation is going to do great things for agriculture.

As a fourth-generation dairy farmer, I have watched an individual's vision come to life, as my dad bought my grandpa's half of the partnership. My dad realized that to stay in business, the dairy needed to transition to organic. My grandpa was unsure of it all, but he supported my dad's vision, and we have been shipping organic milk since 2007.

After graduating from college, I came back to the family dairy, and have been able to start incorporating what I envisioned. One thing was to review our bull breeding selection. We now breed our cows with bulls that carry the polled genetics. Another was to maximize our feed efficiency by changing the way we move cows through our grazing fields.

These may be small changes, but they show that as a family, each person's vision and input are valued. The next generation—our generation—has a different approach and ideas that can positively impact our production and agriculture.

This vision transfers to leadership as well. Instead of flying under the radar and waiting for policies to pass that negatively impact agriculture, we need to be at the table as these important yet divisive discussions take place. We need to respectfully reach across the proverbial aisle and connect with those who might not be educated on the issues.

The CFBF YF&R program has taught many of us how to work with others, allowed us to attend leadership conferences and help build policies that will impact us in the future.

This year is going to be exciting for California YF&R, as we envision the future. Members will attend the American Farm Bureau YF&R conference, attend mixers throughout California, and county YF&R committee chairs will get together at our Summer Leaders Meeting.

We are the future of agriculture, and through this program, we invest in the next generation.

(Jennifer Beretta of Sonoma County serves as chair of the California Young Farmers and Ranchers State Committee).

Permission for use is granted, however, credit must be made to the California Farm Bureau Federation when reprinting this item.

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