Farmers & Education - Food Dialogues

Farmers & Education

Traditionally, many farmers are born into the family farming businesses, and most large-scale commodity farms are family operations. They gain experience through observation and hands-on experience from the time they’re children. In Nebraska and Iowa, it’s not uncommon to meet sixth-generation corn and soybean farmers. On that type of farm, skills and technical knowledge are passed on from parent to child. However, the modernization of the farming industry has made it more necessary for farmers and ranchers to receive formal education and training as well.

Nearly 30 percent of today’s farmers and ranchers have attended college, with over half of this group obtaining a degree. A growing number of today’s farmers and ranchers with four-year college degrees are pursuing post-graduate studies.

Farmers or farm managers can seek the Accredited Farm Manager certification through the American Society of Farm Managers and Rural Appraisers. Applicants must successfully complete a four-part certification examination as well as a test of the code of ethics. A minimum of a bachelor’s degree in the agricultural field, and four years of farming experience, are also required to obtain this credential.

Continuing education courses are designed to improve and enhance a farmer’s skills. Some schools offer continuing education courses in agriculture for those who have obtained their degrees. Programs are flexible and designed for busy farmers and agricultural professionals, and may focus on new technology like GPS in tractors, robotic milker systems, or industry training (i.e. workshops at annual conferences, etc.)