Securing adequate land to grow crops and raise livestock was the top challenge identified in the latest survey of participants in the American Farm Bureau Federation’s Young Farmers & Ranchers program.

That challenge was identified by 20 percent of respondents, followed by burdensome government regulations and “red tape,” which was identified by15 percent of the young farmers and ranchers responding.



“Access to adequate land to begin farming or expand an established operation is a major concern for today’s young farmers,” said Zach Hunnicutt, AFBF’s national YF&R Committee chair and a crop farmer from Nebraska.

“Another major challenge we all face in one form or another is the cost of complying with a maze of government regulations.”



Other issues ranked as top concerns included economic challenges, particularly profitability, 12 percent; water availability, 10 percent; taxes, 9 percent; health care availability and cost, 9 percent; availability of farm labor and related regulations, 8 percent; and willingness of parents to turn over the reins of the farm or ranch, 7 percent.



When asked to name the top three steps the federal government should take to help young farmers and ranchers, cutting government spending was the top response, with 24 percent listing this as most important.

Twelve percent of those surveyed said maintaining the farm safety net was most important, while financial assistance for beginning farmers and tax reform were each cited by 11 percent as the priority that should be first on the list.



The 21st annual YF&R survey revealed that 90 percent of those surveyed are more optimistic about farming and ranching than they were five years ago.

Last year, 94 percent of those surveyed said they were more optimistic about farming than they were five years ago.



The 2013 survey also shows 83 percent of the nation’s young farmers and ranchers say they are better off than they were five years ago. Last year, 94 percent reported being better off.