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Retaining Our Young People In Rural America

One of the best parts about traveling the country to speak is getting to meet amazing people along the way. It doesnt matter what corner of the United States I go to our agricultural community is very much the same. 

Sure the food looks a little different everywhere I go. Theres a distinct point as you head south where unsweetened iced tea becomes sweetened. Theres the constant debate whether you call a fizzy, carbonated drink a soda, pop, or Coke. And even though Im a beef gal, I love the chance to head to one of the coasts where I can enjoy perfectly prepared seafood. 

Of course, theres the differences in accents. While I enjoy listening to a good southern drawl or a clipped Boston or New York accent, you wouldnt believe how often I get teased for my South Dakota accent (emphasis on the long O)!  

But for our unique regional differences that truly make the United States a really cool place to travel and explore, its our commonalities that I love even more. 

Across America, agricultural families truly love the land, the livestock, and their neighbor. They take care of each other in their communities. They have servant hearts. They are passionate about food and agriculture. They are stewards and natural caretakers. They love their families. And they welcome folks like me into town with open arms. 

They worry about the future of this country and raising their kids and grandkids in a world that is increasingly changing. They pay attention to political issues, stay up on the news, and discuss the challenges ahead at the local coffee shop or elevator. 

Theyll lend you the shirt off their back if you asked. They would drop everything to change your flat tire. They open their homes and their hearts to someone in need. And they do it without hesitation. 

This isnt the case for everywhere, but thats just the heart of rural America.  

So no matter where I go in this country, I always feel like Im homewhen Im with my extended agricultural family. 

Yet, our community faces great challenges right now. We see the carving out of rural main streets. And young people not returning to their small towns to work and raise their children. Fewer are willing to enter into the laborious tasks of raising livestock. And trade jobs that provide us the essentials of life are often looked down upon. 

However, in these great challenges that we face, theres also opportunities. And the solution is right in front of our nose we must protect the family, nurture the next generation, and encourage our kids and grandchildren to invest their time, talent, and treasures in rural America. 

We must stop outsourcing our best talent to the big cities, outside of agriculture. Instead, we must help them see the incredible opportunities for in agriculture, where they can discover profitability and success right at home with the ones they love. 

Maybe it all seems cheesy, but this is what Im mulling on today as I head to speak at a farm co-op event this evening. Families will gather with their kids in tow, and its time to deliver a message of hope, of solutions, and of a strong direction to move forward. 

And when we look to the future in that light, its hard not to feel optimistic about whats ahead.  






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