In the pic: the 23 years old farmer Will Young - aka "Farmer Will"
Dynamic, effective but, above all, smart. Millennials are investing (successfully) in the land by founding purpose-driven companies. Thanks to the social media effect this job, once snubbed, is now getting more followers.
First there were lawyers, doctors, engineers. Then came chefs, fashion designers, influencers. Time has passed as well as those trends, but at the top of the pyramid there is one job that no one has been brave enough to try: the farmer.
However, something is changing. In 2020, the year of the outbreak of the pandemic and the first lockdown, out of 86 thousand companies founded in Italy by young people under 35, more than 6 thousand are focused on agricultural services, right after Retail (over 10 thousand) and Specialized Construction (over 8 thousand).
ITALIANS DO IT BETTER
Young Italians know what they are doing, more than their European counterparts. According to the latest Eurostat data, Italian farms led by under-35s generate far more standard production per hectare than the leading European countries: +36 percent of the Germans, +57 percent of the French, +60 percent of the Spanish.
BAMBOOZLES TO WHOM?
Young Italian farmers are doing eve better than their Italian over 55 colleagues, with a 40 percent higher yield per hectare (4,964 vs. 3,546 euros/hectare). While the number of farms run by their older colleagues is higher in absolute terms, on average their farms are significantly smaller in size than those run by young people. In summary: young Italian farmers are able to manage larger farms more efficiently.
THE CULTURE IS IMPORTANT
If being a farmer pays pretty well, why is the revolution so slow? "To make the agricultural revolution we must first activate a cultural revolution," explains Davide Scaravilli, a young farmer who joins the Boniviri project. As long as people associate the farmer with the idea of a poor person young people will continue to snub the land. " We need to convey the message that agriculture, despite its difficulties, is a beautiful sector in which is important to invest, make innovations in order to gain satisfaction and economic return. It is a matter of reputation, and we have to work, all together, for it to change. This is our biggest challenge; we will only win if we'll learn to create a network." The cause of bad reputation, in short, is first and foremost cultural. Changing can be done by networking and learning to use the (powerful) tool of the social media.
THE RISE OF THE AGRISTARS
Dynamic, effective, and above all, smart. As an article recently published in the Financial Times shows, the new generation of farmers is attracting hundreds of thousands of followers on social media. Twenty-three-year-old Will Young - also known as "Farmer Will" - has 900,000 on TikTok, Jessica West (@missfarming) and Drew Steel (@dr3wmeister) have almost the same audiences. On these platforms they create daily-talk about their days at work: from cows to milk, fields to plow, sheeps to shear. In the age of the "Great Resignation," where more and more young people are leaving their well-paid jobs for a more balanced lifestyle, a job as a farmer appears increasingly cool.
THE PURPOSE SPRING
It is not just a matter of open (and clean) air. The push that drives young people to invest in the land is genuine and deep. It is a matter of dreams. People like Giovanni Messina, who keeps working on his father project of a better viticulture on Etna's slope, or Roberto Carbone, who decided to stay in Sicily rather than leaving and move in the North of Italy and launched his own spice and herb company. A business must generate economic satisfaction, for sure, but most of all a positive impact and this is the reason why a lot of young people are deciding to leave jobs that they don't like, even if well-paid, to trying to solve our society's problems.
BENEFIT COMPANIES LEAD THE IMPACT REVOLUTION
The "Impact Revolution," as Ronald Cohen calls it in "Impact is "The Revolution That Is Changing Capitalism,". It's a new economic model that put impact, both environmental and social, at the center of the company's business development. In italy a company structured like this is called Benefit Societies and it's usually manages precisely by young people. "The profit-with-purpose model," Cohen writes, "is the hallmark of the millennial generation. It is a gentle but inexorable revolution, as shown by the numbers of Benefit Societies in the Belpaese, which have been growing strongly in the pandemic period and, among of those companies, Boniviri represents one of the most successful examples."