A bill tries to draw college graduates back...

Posted at 10:18 PM, Feb 04, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-04 23:18:03-05

 An attractive incentive may just draw young people into a career in agriculture. A bill proposed in Madison would pay college grads back for their education, if they work on a farm.

The aging agriculture industry needs young blood and one State Representative’s idea is to pay up to 30-thousand dollars to graduates to go and work on the farm. But not everyone is sure the idea would work.

For a freshman in high school, working part time at the Petersen Dairy Farm in Grand Chute isn't a bad way to prepare for a job in the farming industry.

"It's a lot of fun. It doesn't pay to bad and I love working with the animals," says Sam Plamamn of Grand Chute.

And if working a job like this for five years after college would relieve up to 30-thousand dollars in student debt, it would make the decision that much simpler for him.

"That would definitely make it easier. That would be 30-thousand dollars less that I would have to cover when I’m trying to start a farm," adds Plamamn.

But his boss who’s a third generation dairy farmer himself isn’t sold on the notion of paying graduates to come back to the farm.

"It sounds good to forgive student loans but there is a couple of really important qualities that we want in our graduates,” says Mark Petersen of Petersen Dairy Farm.

Pedersen questions the justification of paying college graduates just for doing the same thing many in his industry have been doing on their own dime for decades.

"Let them graduate and roll up their sleeves and work their tail off like so many other people before them have had to do. Because that's the qualities we need in the workplace," adds Petersen.

Those well informed on the agriculture business are well aware that new generations of young farmers are needed though.

"We are facing a tsunami if you will, of people leaving agriculture. Our age is going way up. Average age is into the mid 60's," says Al Herrman the Executive Director of the Wisconsin Agriculture Education and Workforce Development Council.

And many future college graduates, attempting to find a way into the ever expensive and dwindling world of agriculture, may just consider this bill a foot in the door.

"I do plan on going to college, that would help a lot," adds Plamamn who worries about the growing expenses of getting into the profession.

This proposed bill does have support from both democrats and republicans right now. Its author, Representative Mark Spreitzer is shooting for a public hearing for the bill in the next couple of weeks.