Many people ask me why I want to farm. They ask me why I want to pursue a career that is so labor intensive and back breaking. The answer isn’t as simple as one might hope. To find the answer to that, you have to reach deep down in your book of memories, pull them out, and look back on them.
The reason this life is so attractive to me isn’t just because it’s all I know. Before I went to college, I would have told people that the only reason I’m pursuing a career in this field is because it’s what I’ve grown up doing. Now, I’ve seen the world, I’ve seen the world outside the farm, and I’ve seen how the other half lives. After spending three years in college, I believe I can truthful say that the farm is where my heart remains and what my heart yearns for. Of course, I’ve learned many new things in college, but I can’t help but think that I’ve learned more riding in a tractor with my dad, sitting at a cattle sale with old men, and working cattle with the neighbors. I’m not saying that school isn’t important, but I’m definitely saying that school isn’t everything. School didn’t me the cattle and hogs drugs I can use and the drugs that I should stay away from because they can kill me or cause infertility. School didn’t teach me how to efficiently and effectively move cattle from one feedlot to another in the pouring rain and knee deep mud of early Spring. It never taught me to feel, to look at things through the eye of an animal. Most importantly, school didn’t teach me to mourn the loss of an animal, to feel the heartache of a crop lost to a hailstorm in mid-July. I’ve learned each and every one of these things by seeing, doing, and feeling them first hand.
There are always new things to learn, new people to meet, and new mistakes to make along the way. That’s what I love about this career, it’s always something new. There are days that you might be running across the farm looking for a part to fix the corn planter, and the next day you’re sitting inside the shop, listening to the rain hit the tin while trying to keep a new born calf warm and dry. There are days where your patience is tested, by your family, by the equipment, by the mama cow that does let her new calf nurse. However, at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter that it was a hard day. There is always tomorrow and the day after that, things will get better and the days will get easier as you learn new lessons.
Even on the hard days, the agriculture industry is an industry worth fighting for. An industry that feeds a nation, a planet, is an industry we should all be investing in. Today, the average farmer in the United States feeds 165 people. In 1960, a farmer was only able to feed 26 people. Today, a farmer can grow twice as much food as the generation before him or her, while using less land, water, and resources. Agriculture employees more than 24 million people in the United States. Now, that’s an industry worth fighting for. Farmers only receive 15 cents for every dollar spent. In 1980, farmers received 31 cents for every dollar. Why are we not feeding our farmers? Why is the money not being given back to those who feed the nation? These are the questions I cant help but ponder while working. Together we can change this, we can give back to those who feed us. Buy local, support local. Buy your meat and milk directly from a farmer rather than from a large chain store. Make a difference in the live of the people who feed you.