Clements: AFBF chief economist Bob Young started at AFBF in 2003, and will retire this month after studying the agriculture economy for more than 30 years. After college, Young joined the Navy before returning to school for a master’s degree, and later, a doctorate. He has worked for the University of Missouri, the U.S. Senate and AFBF. Starting his career as an agriculture economist in the 1980s, he says that challenging time period in farming left a mark on his work.
Young: Clearly the sector was going through some real stresses at that point in time. And, working through that downturn in the ag economy, just all the angst and everything else that went on at that stage, really made a big impact on my outlook and my professional career. We had folks that didn’t make it through that, in a number of different senses, and folks don’t always have to stay in ag production, things can happen, farms can go out of business.
Clements: In the last decade, Young says he’s noticed what he calls a reduction in age of the people who are getting involved in agriculture and attending Farm Bureau meetings.
Young: Certainly, that youth movement hasn’t shown up in USDA’s data yet, but just being at the meetings, does just seem like we’ve got a lot more 30- and 40-somethings in the room than we did for a long, long time. Maybe it’s because I’m getting older too, I don’t know. But, does just seem to me that the youth is interested in ag at this stage of the game.
Clements: Reflecting on his time at AFBF, Young called Farm Bureau unique, serving as the Voice of Agriculture from the county seat to Washington, D.C., and beyond.
Young: Most folks out in the counties, you really only get exposed to your county Farm Bureau, maybe you’ll occasionally get involved at the state level, very few tend to get exposed at what goes on at the national level. It does great things. What it does up on Capitol Hill, carrying the message of farmers, carrying the messages down to the agencies as they write regulations to implement laws, American Farm Bureau does a great job at carrying that message, and does require careful care and feeding.
Clements: Micheal Clements, Washington.