Fifth generation Iowa farmer grows a career

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Iowa is looking for ways to grow its population. That means encouraging more young professionals to stay in the Hawkeye state.

Ben Dittmer is a young man on the move in Eldridge on Thursday.

"I did my research with our agronomist," he told Rep. Bruce Braley, (D) Iowa.

The Iowa State graduate, 24, is a rare sight. Touring his family's farm with Rep. Braley, Ben is staying in Iowa and crafting a career in agriculture.

"I graduated with 55 in my class or so," he said. "I think just a handful of us are going back to farm."

That's why Rep. Braley supports legislation that helps young and beginning farmers like Ben. It would create start-up loans, training and other incentives. That's important as Iowa farmers continue to age.

"Some of them are going to start retiring and leave the farm," Rep. Braley said. "We need to have opportunities for young people."

The fifth generation of farmers in the Dittmer family is poised to succeed. Ben plans to succeed in a family business that continues to innovate and achieve.

While Ben Dittmer is carving his own path in farming, his dad is happy that their legacy on the land will continue.

"We have the soil. We have the climate," Tom Dittmer said. "And to have the next generation come in for me, personally, it's very rewarding."

Yet there will be bumps along the way. That includes a runaround over a loan.

"They basically said the funding wasn't there," Ben said.

But Ben Dittmer is part of an important trend. He's a young Iowan who's staying in the state.

"That needs to continue," he concluded. "And for that to continue, we need more young farmers."

Ben Dittmer remains a young man on the move while staying close to home in Iowa.