Agriculture a great field, young people told

A campaign is underway to tell young people they should consider a career in agriculture — although maybe some, like 11-year-old Justin Schwanke, don't need much convincing.

Schwanke and his family were at the Farm Progress Show in Regina on Wednesday where he told a CBC reporter there's no better job than farming.

"I just wanna be a farmer," Schwanke said. "A farmer, that's it."

That's music to the ears of the Farm Credit Corporation, which recently launched its Agriculture More Than Ever campaign.

The company describes it as a multi-year initiative to change perceptions about agriculture. It notes an FCC survey of thousands of farmers revealed that almost 80 per cent would recommend a career in agriculture.

But at the same time, public opinion polls suggest the general public does not think agriculture has a bright future. According to Sask Trends Monitor, the number of farmers under 35 years of age in Saskatchewan has dropped from 15,600 two decades ago to 4,400 last year.

Even so, Regina-based FCC notes that even those who leave the farm can still get a good job in the agri-food industry.

"There are people, young people that are very bright and have lots of life skills because they've grown up on a farm that would be ideal candidates to join the ag industry in many other areas, said Lyndon Carlson, a vice-president with FCC.

Such ideal candidates include Amanda Schoenroth, 23, who is now working toward her degree in geology — but grew up on a farm and is thinking about how higher education could keep her in the industry.

"I could potentially do soil analysis and soil tests ... which is important to any farm industry, especially if you work for a fertilizer company," she said.

FCC says the agri-food industry also has marketing and business jobs to offer young people, due to Canada's growing international trade.

It's a path even farm-loving Justin Schwanke might be following some day.

While the business and science of farming may not have much appeal for him right now, his parents say higher education will be a priority for their son.

"He's going to go to [post-secondary] after he's done high school and after that, the chips fall where they may," Justin's father Brian said.

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