July 20 2017 01:15 PM

Kids of farmers are most likely to become farmers, too.

There are well-known parent-child professional pairs . . .

Ken Griffey, Sr., and his son were both major league baseball players.

Stephen Curry and brother Seth are sons of previous NBA player Dell Curry and both play professionally.

Son of actors Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith, teenage Jaden has been in movies from a young age.

Keifer Sutherland is the product of two actors as well, Donald Sutherland and Shirley Douglas. There are many others in professional sports and acting, but who is the most common?


The University of Chicago’s biannual sociological survey of those in the United States showed that farming is the career where the most follow their parents professionally.

And the margin was huge!

Over half (56 percent) of people with one farming parent chose to pursue a career in production agriculture. Of all those surveyed, the average was a mere 4.7 percent.

Lagging far behind, were doctors with 17.1 percent. In third were other agricultural workers with 15.5 percent.

Why is that? The survey believes it is because of the large investment in land and that inheriting property is common. The interpretation is that obtaining the land is almost a forced career choice.

But, I think there are other reasons.

Parents who work at businesses typically do not bring their children to the office. Once old enough, many of us raised on farms spent most of our days outside with the animals, and typically that meant interacting with Dad on the tractor or helping Mom feed calves. It was a career we saw firsthand – think of it as an early internship – where you are exposed to the day-to-day working of the job. If you liked it, you stuck around.

After decades on the farm, you have been exposed to a lot of things – animal care, equipment, people skills, and paperwork. All of those skills are hard to find in just one person not raised on a farm. You are good at it and you know the business! Therefore, it is a sound move to hire the skilled son or daughter of a farmer. That knowledge is hard to duplicate in a nonfarm kid. And the work ethic is hard to match.

With busy lives, people often complain that they do not have time to spend with their kids. But, farmers spend time with their children (even grown children), especially when working. From the people interaction aspect, you likely are working with those you want to work with, or else you would not be there.

Farming is a risk – financially speaking. But, in general those in agriculture are more on the conservative side, looking for ways to be more efficient and minimize unnecessary expenses. The flamboyant purchases are seldom. And, for some straying from the work that they have done all their life brings much apprehension, and therefore some may choose to follow in their parents’ footsteps instead of walking into an unchartered career.

Farming is a tough life. If it wasn’t, the percentages would be significantly higher. Not every child of a farmer follows the same path as their parent, but better than half do. It is obviously a choice many want to make.

Patti Hurtgen

The author is the online media manager and is responsible for the website, webinars, and social media. A graduate of Modesto Junior College and Fresno State, she was raised on a California dairy and frequently blogs on youth programs and consumer issues.