Connecting with Future Generations in the Cattle Industry

Millennials – individuals born between 1982 and 2000 – now number 83.1 million1. With this generation accounting for more than one quarter of the nation’s population, it’s natural that millennials also are starting to make up a significant portion of producers and employees in the cattle industry.

Engaging with Young Producers
As the U.S. farming population shrinks and ages at a drastic rate, it’s important for the industry to appeal and connect with a younger generation. Cattle Empire, a feedyard based in Satanta, Kansas, is striving to do just that. The feedyard has a cattle-owner website aimed at improving customer service with younger cattlemen.

“Cattle owners can print out information on their cattle, check feed costs, view days on feed, ration changes and any other information we may have available,” said Trista Brown Priest, vice president of Cattle Empire. “Since our customer base averages 60 to 70 years old, we hope by offering technologically-advanced services – such as the website – we will reach those customers’ children.”

According to a 2015 FarmNext survey, young farmers are driving technological change in agriculture, and will continue to lead the adoption and integration of new technologies in their work. From more refined methods of feeding to reaching consumers through social media, young cattlemen are using technology for improving efficiencies and building relationships with consumers.

“We also work to connect with our customers and consumers through social media,” says Brown Priest. “We actively post on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to give followers a picture of what’s happening on the farm day-to-day.”

Working with Millennials
When it comes to hiring millennials, things may look a little different as well. Results from a 2015 study conducted by researchers at Purdue University, in coordination with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, showed a shortage of college graduates with bachelor’s degrees in agriculture. In fact, for the nearly 58,000 agriculture-related jobs available, there were only 35,400 graduates. Because this generation has more options for employment in agriculture than ever before, long-term retention could become an issue.

Millennials prefer flexibility in their work schedule so they can enjoy life, but they also don’t mind picking up work around the clock to provide more breaks during the day. This may prove difficult for a profession that is historically perceived to be, sun-up to sun-down.

How to appeal to millennials and keep them? According to a report from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, work-life balance is their top priority, followed by having a sense of purpose, working in a collaborative environment and being offered leadership and responsibility opportunities.

The team at Cattle Empire has taken note of the work-style changes of the next generation and is creating a more desirable work environment. “Our office positions now offer flex time and we’re working on a process to make most of our positions eight-hour jobs,” said Brown Priest. “We’re not there yet, but we recognize the need to make these jobs more appealing to the next generation.”
  1. The U.S. Census Bureau. (June 2015). Millennials Outnumber Baby Boomers and Are Far More Diverse, Census Bureau Reports. Retrieved from https://www.census.gov/newsroom/press-releases/2015/cb15-113.html