Ag Days aims to inspire young farmers
Between today and Thursday more than 1,000 fourth-graders, teachers, and parents in Bannock County will take to the farm for this year's annual Ag Days festivities.
For nearly 20 years, the Idaho Farm Bureau Women's Leadership Committee has hosted Ag Days.
Wendy Swore and her family have been home to the event at their family's farm, Swore Farms, for the past few years. This year, she said it will be bigger than ever before.
"Every year we invite all the fourth-graders all over Pocatello, which is about 1,200 kids, to come out with their teachers and parents to learn about agriculture," Swore said.
Ag Days teaches kids where their food comes from, and the process it takes before making it onto their dinner tables.
Committee chairman Sherril Tillotson said a lot of kids do not realize their food comes from beyond the grocery store.
"I want them to associate their everyday lives with the basics of agriculture, and understand where their clothing comes from, where their meals come from, and how they're grown," Tillotson said. "You don't go to the grocery store and expect that it will be there. It takes a number of teamwork careers prior to the grocery store and that usually they start in agriculture somewhere."
Both Swore and Tillotson said these educational opportunities are vital when it comes to keeping kids interested in farming. This comes during a time when the agriculture community is seeing a lot less farmers in the field.
Tillotson verified the average age of a farmer is about 60 years old, and while the size of farms are growing, the amount of farms themselves are diminishing.
Swore said this is primarily because farming is a demanding, tough job, and when farmers grow older, it is sometimes more profitable for them to sell that land into housing versus keeping it for farming.
"Farming is a hard job. It's hard to make a living at it, it's a gamble every year, and it's really expensive to get into," Swore said.
She is now seeing subdivisions popping-up on what used to be solely farmland between Swore Farms and Chubbuck. Now, she said, you cannot use that land for production any longer.
"That threatens us all the time because we don't have enough space. Once the land is in houses, it's done. You can't go back. So, every time a new house is built, then that much farmland is never going back into the system again," Swore said.
In the meantime, Tillotson said this has been an ongoing issue the Farm Bureau has been paying close attention to. But for now, the best way to keep these kids interested, she said, is to keep them learning while having fun.
"We're always educating and trying to turn that around and make it interesting enough that we're always going to have people in agriculture. We're always going to need it. Someone has to grow our food and our products for clothing," Tillotson said.