The latest survey of participants in the American Farm Bureau Federation’s Young Farmers & Ranchers program shows an even split when it comes to concerns about top challenges they face today.

A total of 21 percent of young farmers surveyed ranked burdensome government regulations and “red tape” as a top concern; an additional 21 percent cited securing adequate land to grow crops and raise livestock as their top challenge today.

“Most young farmers and ranchers would like to stay on the farm or ranch their entire lives,” said Glen Cope, AFBF’s national YF&R committee chair and a beef cattle producer from Missouri. “One of the biggest challenges many of us have faced is getting enough capital to start farming. And then, once we are established, regulatory costs can be the wildcard that determines whether we can be successful enough to stay on the land,” he said.

Other issues ranked as top concerns included economic challenges, particularly profitability, 11 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 No, 1 response, with 20 percent listing this as most important. Sixteen percent of those surveyed said the government should provide financial help to beginning farmers, while 12 percent indicated reforming environmental regulations should be first on the list.

“Cutting government spending will help reduce the nation’s mammoth government debt,” said Cope. “However, providing assistance to help beginning farmers get started in food production would be money well spent. And reforming burdensome environmental regulations will be good for all of agriculture and America.”

The 20th annual YF&R survey revealed that 94 percent of those surveyed are more optimistic about farming and ranching than they were five years ago. Last year, 87 percent of those surveyed said they were more optimistic about farming than they were five years ago.