Zach Johnson, better known as the Millennial Farmer, is a fifth-generation family farmer from central western part of Minnesota, USA, who has made a significant impact on the agricultural community through his enviable online presence. His journey began on 2 April 2016 when he launched his YouTube channel, which has since grown to over a million subscribers, and garnered more than 308 million video views as of mid-2023.
Johnson’s content primarily revolves around his day-to-day experiences on the massive family farm. He actively promotes agriculture by sharing these experiences, providing viewers with an authentic glimpse into the life of a modern farmer. His videos cover a wide range of topics, from the technical aspects of farming machinery to the challenges and rewards of farm life. This comprehensive coverage of his activities has been instrumental in his popularity, as it provides a unique perspective that is both educational and entertaining.
Had an awesome time tonight at the @therealgrayduck launch party!! Thanks for the invite @chadgreenway52 ! #fishoutofwater #gettheduckout #idontalwaysdresslikethat #heckuvagoodtime #mnmillennialfarmer
One of the key factors that contribute to Zach’s fame is his ability to connect with a diverse audience, featuring various kinds of content tailored for the majority of internet users. His videos are thus not just for those in the farming community, but also appeal to those who have little to no knowledge about farming.
By demystifying the seemingly complicated process and showcasing the hard work that goes into creating the food that we eat, Johnson has managed to bridge the gap between consumers and producers. For example, a child asking the parents where their breakfast came from could just binge-watch Millennial Farmer and learn all about it.
Moreover, Johnson’s advocacy for agriculture extends beyond just his YouTube channel. He uses the platform to address misconceptions about farming, and highlight the importance of food production in society. Zach’s commitment to promoting the lifestyle and his ability to engage with a massive audience in a meaningful way have earned him a significant following, and made him a respected figure in the agricultural community.
In terms of statistics, Johnson has uploaded over 553 videos to his channel. His content has a wide reach, with his videos gaining many millions of views. His subscriber count has been steadily increasing, and his videos consistently attract a high number of views, indicating a strong and engaged audience base.
That said, considering the financial crisis whose head has begun to rise on the horizon, and whose very real effects are already felt across a number of markets, the fans have been left wondering whether the Johnsons will be able to weather the storm. Fact is that food, in spite of being the very sustenance of humanity, has been taking a massive hit over the last few years, in terms of production costs and total earnings.
What’s the actual issue?
As inflation continues to ramp up, the escalating costs of farmland have become a significant barrier to entry. The dream of owning and operating a farm, once within reach for ambitious young farmers, is becoming increasingly elusive.
A report by Bloomberg from 29 May 2022 has shed light on the severity of this issue, revealing that farmland values in the Midwest have surged by a staggering 23% from the year prior. This dramatic increase has been fueled by a boom in commodity prices, creating a ripple effect that has made it exceedingly difficult for millennial farmers like Johnson to remain competitive in the industry.
For Zach, this trend isn’t just a statistic on the internet, but a reality that impacts his daily life and future aspirations. The escalating costs have made the prospect of owning farmland a daunting challenge, meaning that the dream of tilling his own soil and reaping the fruits of his labor is being overshadowed by the harsh economic realities of modern farming.
The impact of these rising prices extends beyond just the financial strain. It also affects the very fabric of rural communities, as young farmers are the lifeblood of these areas, bringing innovation, energy, and a willingness to adapt to new farming practices. However, with the barriers to entry becoming increasingly insurmountable, there is a risk that these communities could lose the vital infusion of youth and innovation that allows it to exist in the first place.
Johnson’s struggle is not just about securing a piece of land, it’s also for the sake of preserving a way of life, a tradition passed down through his family’s five farming generations. Likewise, it’s about the satisfaction of working the land, being at the mercy of the elements, and the reward of a bountiful harvest. The very pride of being a farmer, which is the main boasting point of his channel, and of feeding the nation by being a steward of the land, has been put in jeopardy.
Is Bill Gates threatening Zach Johnson?
Bill Gates, the Microsoft founder turned philanthropist, has been investing in agricultural properties across the US, which is a move that has sparked numerous speculations and conspiracy theories. To address some of them, Gates clarified his intentions behind these investments during an “Ask Me Anything” session on Reddit.
He stated that he owns less than 0.03% of the total farmland in the country, which is far from the 80% ownership that some conspiracy theories suggested. Gates explained that his investments aim to make these farms more productive and create more jobs, thus feeding more people and providing wealth for a large number of homes. He emphasized that there isn’t a grand scheme involved, and that all decisions regarding these investments are made by a professional investment team.
That said, farmers are still naturally worried about the increasing concentration of land ownership. When wealthy individuals or corporations buy up farmland, it can drive up land prices in those areas as the owners expect to be contacted by dominant conglomerates, making it more difficult for small farmers to expand their operations, or for new ones to enter the industry. This could potentially impact farmers like Zach Johnson as well, who may find it more challenging to acquire additional land for broadening his farming operations.
It's a good thing I'm 19 feet tall, or else this corn would look short. pic.twitter.com/xDpW24iUI4
— Zach the MFer (@farmmillennial) July 19, 2021
There are also concerns about the shift in land use and farming practices, as Gates is a known proponent of sustainable and high-tech farming. While these methods can be beneficial in terms of efficiency and environmental impact, they may not align with the traditional farming procedures employed by those like Johnson.
This crucial difference in opinion could lead to a biblical clash of interests and values in the farming community, leaving the average consumer to only hope that their future children will have a diet as varied as they do now. With a single glance at history, it becomes apparent that almost any behemoth could rise from that boiling pot, only further exacerbating the global food shortage issue.
Furthermore, not many are satisfied with the future of farming being under such concentrated ownership. While Gates has stated that his investments are aimed at job creation and productivity, the specifics of how this will be achieved remain unclear. This lack of understanding can create uncertainty and anxiety among farmers, who must navigate these changes while ensuring the sustainability of their own operations.
Who really is Millennial Farmer?
Zach Johnson was born on the farm now made famous through his YouTube channel, on 19 March 1982. He was raised to honor the family craft and the efforts of their ancestors, which instilled in him a deep love and respect for the land and the profession. His upbringing was steeped in the traditions of farming, and he was taught the importance of hard work, dedication, and perseverance from an early age.
His father, Nathan Johnson, was a farmer as well, and it was from him that Zach inherited his passion for agriculture. Nathan was a firm believer in the importance of sustainable farming practices, and did his utmost to pass this belief onto his son. Zach’s mother, meanwhile, provided a nurturing and supportive environment that allowed the boy’s interest in farming to flourish.
The YouTuber’s early life was filled with the typical experiences of a farm boy, as he spent his days helping his father in the fields, learning about the different crops and the intricacies of farming machinery. His education wasn’t limited to the classroom, for the family business was his real school, where he learned practical skills and gained a deep understanding of farming.
As he grew older, Zach’s passion for his father’s legacy only intensified, and it was no shocker when he decided to follow in Nathan’s footsteps and become a full-time farmer. He took over the family farm, and began to implement the sustainable farming practices that he’d been learning about for all those years.
Having learned the ropes and eventually become his own man of the house, Zach followed through with the rest of the traditions, and found himself a girlfriend from the area named Becky. She always had an eye out for him as well, and their eventual relationship blossomed into a lifelong partnership.
Their true journey together began when they tied the knot on 18 September 2004, in a private ceremony in Minnesota. Their bond has only grown stronger over the years, and they’ve since welcomed three children into the family. Their eldest daughter, Onyx, was born on 4 May 2007, followed by a son named Rhi on 7 December 2009, and the youngest extension of the Johnson family, daughter Isla born on 1 August 2014.
It goes without saying that the children do their best to help out on the farm, while Zach and his wife take on the brunt of the work. Throughout the 553 videos uploaded on the channel so far, Becky can often be seen moving around and setting things in order all over their property, which essentially makes her crucial both as the family matriarch and business associate.
The couple hope to inspire the characters of hundreds of thousands of love stories like theirs to also take up the machinery and work on their own land, while also clarifying the process to the less farm-savvy, encouraging those couples with a more urban lifestyle to also move to the countryside, and become the masters of their own bread.
What will happen to the channel?
Seeing the massive success of Millennial Farmer, many have theorized that the name is now too big to fail, as their faithful followers would stick by even if the channel’s content completely switched up, perhaps even to city life, depending on whether the farm gets completely swallowed up by nation-wide financial troubles.
Proof of excellence
Zach’s most popular upload to date is entitled “10 Year Old Grain Cart Driver,” featuring his eldest daughter as she learns to manipulate some of the simpler vehicles around the farm. Released on 4 October 2020, the video has garnered over four million views by mid-2023, and it continues to attract attention and brand-new subscribers to the channel.
The video begins with the father, Zach, instructing Onyx on how to manage the grain cart, emphasizing the importance of keeping it under a truckload to prevent overfilling. Onyx, eager to learn, takes the reins and successfully manages the cart, filling up a truck with 53,000 units of grain. Zach watches with pride as his daughter handles the machinery with ease, demonstrating a quick understanding of the task at hand.
As the day progresses, the weather fluctuates between rain and sunshine, but this doesn’t deter the duo. Zach continues to guide Onyx, providing her with tips and advice on how to improve her efficiency. Meanwhile, regardless of finding the task a bit monotonous at times, the 10-year old remains focused and determined.
The video also provides a glimpse into the realities of farming, highlighting the challenges posed by varying weather conditions and the importance of utilizing the right equipment to significantly ease the workload. Zach discusses the benefits of using a Crary Wind System on their combine, which helps to reduce shatter and improve the efficiency of the harvest.
The video concludes with Zach reflecting on the differences between soybean and corn harvests, and the varying challenges that each season inevitably brings. He also mentions a charitable initiative they are running, through which they are contributing $5,000 to local fire departments and first responder crews for grain bin rescue equipment and training.
The Johnsons’ future
With his videos doing as well as they are, coupled with the fact that he continues uploading on a regular basis, it doesn’t look like Zach’s channel is going anywhere for the foreseeable future. He’s established a strong foothold in both the farming and entertainment industry, and with as many fans as he currently has, it can be concluded that Johnson is well on his way to a life of fame and fortune, no matter where the wind takes him.
The videos are by far the family’s main source of income, but they also sell merchandise featuring the channel’s name and logo, as well as various quotes that have stood out from the content through the years, such as ‘Keep it between the rows.’
Lastly, the Johnsons’ Instagram page infrequently sees new posts that reveal more about their farm life, but this is not out of bashfulness, as Zach makes sure to update the fans on whatever he’s currently doing, through regular story updates.