Generation Z: The Farmers of Tomorrow

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Millennials make a lot of headlines, but a bigger and younger generation is waiting in the wings: Generation Z.

According to Nielsen’s Total Audience report, Gen Z makes up the largest population base at 26% in the U.S., 4% higher than Millennials. Gen Z is typically defined as being born between 1997 and 2015.

During a recent Agricultural Business Council of Kansas City meeting a presentation was given on the emergence of Gen Z and their perceptions of agriculture. The data was gathered by advertising agency Osborn Barr with the help of FFA who helped locate farm families with members of Gen Z.

It was important to do the study because Gen Z will be the future decision makers on the farm, says Dustin Johansen, vice president for Osborn Barr.

For the purposes of the study Gen Z are members of farm families currently 18-22 years in age.

Current farm operators defined as “BOOMXY” come from the Boomer, Gen X and Millennial generations and the respondents in the survey ranged in age from 28-74 years.

A total of 500 families responded to the survey and approximately 2/3 had Gen Z family members who were actively involved on the farm.

“We all know that transition of farms is a big item right now. The average age of the farm producers and owners is upwards of 55-60 years old, so who is going to take over those farming operations and carry on that farming legacy” Johansen says.

When it comes to handing down the farm, 53.8% of Gen Z said they would definitely or probably want to inherit the family operation. BOOMXY subset 72.9% reported that the next generation would definitely or probably want to farm or ranch on the family business.

When it comes to supporting brands Gen Z is more loyal than other generations when reporting “very loyal” as an option. Brand name and historical family use were much more important to Gen Z than the BOOMXY subset.

Participation in trade associations was also overwhelmingly supported by Gen Z with 81% saying it was “extremely to very important.”

Gen Z had a more positive outlook when it came to interacting with government organizations than their BOOMXY counterparts. For instance, Gen Z had more than double the favorability for the Food and Drug Administration compared to BOOMXY. However, those Gen Z family members actively involved on a farm or ranch had a less favorable perception of government organizations.  

When it comes to technology use Gen Z used more forms of social media, while utilizing a cell phone or a laptop as their preferred method of accessing the Internet. For information or news about agriculture Gen Z overwhelming prefers personal interactions either with other farmers face to face or interacting on social media.

For more information on the study watch the video interview with Johansen above.