There have been a lot of articles lately discussing the need for dairy farmers to speak out, connect with consumers and put a face on the food we produce.

As farmers, we have an amazing story to tell. From 1987 to 2007, farmers grew 40 percent more corn, 30 percent more soybeans and 19 percent more wheat – all on the same amount of land. In 1940, one farmer produced enough food for 19 people. By 1970, it had risen to 73 people. And, today, one farmer produces enough food for 155 people. Modern dairy farms only use 10 percent of the land, 23 percent of the feedstuffs and 35 percent of the water that was required to produce the same amount of milk in 1944. Similarly, in 2007, dairy farming produced only 24 percent of the manure and 43 percent of the methane output per gallon of milk compared to farming in 1944.

Like I said, an amazing story to tell and one that each of us should be telling every single day to anyone and everyone who will listen. But one thing that I think gets left out of the discussion is your children.

Although I’m not blessed to have my own children yet, I have had many opportunities to work with some of your kids. It amazes me every time I go to a youth event -- be it National Jr. Holstein Convention, Intercollegiate Dairy Challenge -- or work with the local Jr. Holstein group, or attend our county fair or an FFA function, just how much you as parents and we as an industry should be proud of.

These kids are inspiring.

The kids in the agricultural industry are level-headed thinkers, problem solvers. They are dedicated, responsible and caring individuals. They have embraced personal accountability and personal responsibility. They are growing up with a foundation that the majority of the population doesn’t have. And, every time I’m at an event, they continue to be an inspiration and give me a sense of pride in our industry. Not just because of how hard they work, but because I know that I’m looking at the future leaders of not only the agricultural industry, but of our country.

Our country will continue to be faced with many challenges. It will require strong leaders and problem-solvers. Particularly in agriculture, as fewer and fewer people grow up on farms, the challenges will continue to increase. We will need these future leaders.

Be proud, you are raising the leaders of tomorrow.