Fighting the trends
Between 2007 and 2012, America’s agricultural community shrunk by more than 95,000 farmers. But bucking that trend was Clay Sellers, a first-generation farmer who in 2010 became one of the 2.1 million growers now contributing $100 billion to the US economy.
It’s no secret that this much-loved industry is under threat. Yet, despite the challenges, the agricultural scene is also changing for the good. At the heart of this revolution is the emergence of new young farmers like Clay who are planting fresh ideas and business models at a time when economic and environmental challenges have made innovation and forward thinking more valuable than ever.
Rising to the challenge
“I knew I wanted to farm since I could walk and talk,” Clay explains. But as a newcomer, he knew that starting a farm was no easy task. However, with “some know-how and what I hope people call good work ethic I started small and have grown in small increments. I feel like this has allowed me to be successful and learn multiple crops along the way,” he says.
We think Clay’s work ethic is indubitable: Hundreds of hours studying the land, pruning, planting and finding solutions that better conserve natural ecosystems, such as adopting the latest sophisticated irrigation systems to reduce water waste. But there have been challenges with moments when he’s felt the prohibitively high costs of ensuring his farm remains sustainable.
Assailing the obstacles
Despite the obstacles, sustainability has remained at the centre of his operations and with the help of his UPL representative, he has been equipped with knowledge and solutions during every step since his odyssey into farming first began over 12 years ago.
Clay uses many of our inputs to grow his cotton, peanuts, green beans, cabbage and wheat, particularly the mix of inputs UPL is able to offer. For example, with our Assail insecticide, Clay feels assured that not only are his crops being protected, but UPL products are ensuring improved growth and minimal environmental impact.
The next crop of farmers
Keen to continue the growth of his farm, and bolster his sustainability credentials to improve the quality of his crops and the health of his soil, Clay’s story captures the unyielding ambition of many young, first-generation farmers. His successes underscore the need to reduce the barriers facing the next crop of sustainable farmers as we reimagine a more resilient future of agriculture.