When more than 40 emerging farm leaders from around the world met in the Netherlands last month, Southwest Kansas Cattle Producer Trista Brown, with Cattle Empire, and three other Americans were there. The meeting was the first Rabobank Young Farmers Master Class. The global agricultural bank, hosted the Master Class, which is aimed at developing the skills and knowledge of younger farmers, who will be key in ensuring productivity gains are made across the global food and agribusiness sector in future years.

Over the course of a week, the Rabobank Young Farmers Master Class set the scene by analyzing global food security issues at play covering topics including Innovation, Big Data (the role of technology in the future of farming), Social Media, Succession, and Best Farm Practices.

“This was a great opportunity to step back and look at the bigger picture – how what we do plays a role in what’s happening around the world,” says Brown. “There was also an opportunity to gather insight and council from farmers who have experienced things we have not yet dealt with. Their insight was really valuable to me and, in several instances, I took away something I can incorporate in our operation.”

Rabo AgriFinance CEO Neil Dobbin notes the Rabobank Young Farmers Master Class is designed to address the themes impacting on the future of farming, in context with the up-and-coming leaders of the agricultural sector.

“The world population is forecast to grow from seven billion today to over nine billion in 2050 – not only is the population growing bigger, it is growing older and wealthier as well,” noted Dobbin.

“To feed more, longer-living, farmers will need to increase global food production by at least 70 per cent. This is why Rabobank has organized the first ever Young Farmers Master Class specifically for young farmers, as they are tomorrow’s agricultural leaders and therefore vital in contributing to a secure food future.”

Trista Brown also noted that once the very diverse group got to know one another, the differences seemed to disappear as they discovered commonalities.  

“One of the things that really struck me is the fact that although our operations are very different, we deal with many of the same challenges. I didn’t realize, for example, that immigration issues are something farmers around their world deal with; the challenges are not unique to us here in the states. It was interesting to visit about how other producers manage these areas.”

 “We believe farmers – and particularly the next generation of farmers – will play a vital role in the shared responsibility of meeting the future demand for food,” he said. “As a global bank supporting the F&A sector around the world, we see the shared responsibility farmers are facing to produce more, with less. The Young Farmers Master Class will provide a platform to participants to interact and exchange knowledge with leading experts, food scientists and global peers.”