Training Future Farmers for Production Agriculture Careers at the New Century Farmer Conference

New Farmers Conference

The future of production agriculture is in good hands.

Each summer, 50 college students who plan to pursue farming careers come together for the New Century Farmer conference. The conference helps students develop their careers in production agriculture and prepares them for the modern farming industry. These select participants attend a weeklong event in Des Moines, Iowa, during the summer, which includes seminars, field tours and networking in order to explore topics in production agriculture. These topics range from farm financing to consumer trends to risk management.

“Today’s farmers need to have a great depth of knowledge in order to survive,” says Lindsey Calhoun, the New Century Farmer conference program coordinator for the National FFA Organization. “The New Century Farmer conference works to prepare students for the changes they will be facing in the future by introducing them to the latest developments in agricultural technologies and practices.”

Participants learn about the future of agriculture, and they also begin to form relationships with top industry professionals and create a vision for their future operations. By beginning this process early in their careers, future farmers have a clear and compelling vision of how they want their operations to function.

“I was interested in attending the New Century Farmer conference because I wanted to hear other people’s stories and ideas that could possibly influence my own operation,” says Clint Vance, a senior at Ohio State University majoring in agribusiness and applied economics. “I also wanted to stay informed about other key issues that many farmers may not be aware of. Starting out as a young farmer brings many challenges to me, and working to overcome those challenges is a big part in becoming successful!”

Not only do participants learn from their peers who attend the conference, lessons are also learned through some of the leading agricultural businesses in the nation. Pioneer, Case IH, CSX and Farm Credit Services provide speakers, create educational material and sponsor the conference at no cost to the students.

“With the world population expected to be 9 billion in the year 2040, more and more countries are going to be in a hunger crisis and are going to need to figure out every possible way to make food go further and produce more of it, including the United States, “ Vance says. “I would recommend this conference to anyone who is thinking about going into production agriculture after high school or college. Meeting 49 other people throughout the United States who have the same passion as you, getting to listen to excellent speakers, and having business people take time out of their schedule to give you a tour of their facilities is a great way to jump-start your career in production agriculture.”

Find more information on the New Century Farmer conference at

– Beverley Kreul