2013 The Year of the Farmer: 13 Reasons Why You Should be Thankful for Farmers & Ranchers

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It has been almost a year since Dodge aired the “So God Made a Farmer” commercial during the Super Bowl and declared 2013 as the year of the farmer. As 2013 comes to a close, I thought of no better post other than one about the importance of our farmers. There may be some other blog posts out there like this; however in my opinion, there can never be too many posts about thanking those who put food on our tables.

With an increasing global population, a decreasing amount of land available for food production and with less than 2% of the U.S population directly involved in production agriculture, there is no time like the present to strive to educate the public about agriculture and farming practices. It cannot be stated enough how crucial it is for more people to understand agriculture and not be influenced by common misconceptions (i.e. animal welfare, GMO’s, antibiotic use, etc.). There is no doubt that the general public needs to be more knowledgeable about agriculture, as well as more aware about just how much it impacts all of our lives.

It was rather difficult coming up with only 13 reasons why we should be thankful for our farmers. (Granted, give me enough time and I could probably think of 100 reasons.) It can be assumed that several of you can thank of several other reasons other than the ones I listed as well. However, the main purpose of this post is to educate those who may not be aware of just how much farmers do and provide for us. It also was written to remind farmers that they truly are important.

Let the countdown to the list of 13 reasons to be thankful for our farmers begin now.

Bazinga

Five

Four

Three

Two

One

AND HERE WE GO!!!!!!!

Thirteen Reasons Why You Should Thank a Farmer

  1. Let’s start off with and state the obvious. FARMERS FEED US!!!!!! Without them, we would not be able to go to the grocery store and have access to an abundance of food products. We would not have food on our tables, in our cabinets, in our refrigerators/freezers, and the list goes on. Could you imagine a world without plentiful food? Yeah, neither could I. So yes, you definitely should thank a farmer. 12973_10201593605023993_1495218490_n
  2. Less than two percent of the U.S. population are farmers. Why is this important? For starters, we rely on a very small number of people to provide us with food we can consume and export to other countries. (Approximately 23% of raw products are exported every year.) Farmers not only provide for us here in the United States, but they also provide enough to export for people of other countries to consume. So yes, you should definitely thank a farmer.
  3.  Forget the typical stereotypes a lot of people have about farmers. There is no doubt that farmers are smart. Many do not realize just how much it takes to be a farmer. Farmers have to be able to be their own mechanics-they have to be able to fix a variety of things; veterinarians-they have to be able to provide basic care to their animals; bookkeepers/accountants-they have to be able to crunch numbers to ensure their farms efficiency and profitability; and they have to have a general knowledge and understanding about a wide variety of topics such as grazing practices, vaccination regiments, fertilizer applications, when to mow hay, when to plant crops, etc. You see, farming is much more than what meets the eye. So yes, you should definitely thank a farmer.
  4. Farmers work 365 days a year. There are no days off because it is a holiday, snow day or weekend. Farming requires time, hard work, dedication, perseverance and commitment. It is definitely not an easy job. It is definitely not a profession where you are guaranteed to be wealthy. It is not a profession where you can predict how much money you will make. There’s no doubt this lifestyle is tough. So yes, you should definitely thank a farmer.
  5. Farmers do CARE about what they do. Yes, there has been videos released of animal abuse occurring on farms; however those people who were in the videos are not what I consider a farmer. Farmers put the needs of their animals above their own. They seek practices that is most conserving of their land. They work to keep animals comfortable and land productive. This level of care simply represents just how genuine most farmers are. So yes, you should definitely thank a farmer.
  6. Tradition is very important to farmers. Most of the farmers I know come from several generations of farmers. Not only do they understand the importance of farming in general, but they also farm to keep their family tradition alive. This is5342_201789796644687_27104960_n important because at least one of their kids will want to keep the tradition of the family farm going. This is important because that gives us assurance that the future of farming is in good hands. So yes, you should definitely thank a farmer.
  7. Farmers are dedicated. As I somewhat mentioned before, farming relies on so many uncontrollable factors such as weather, disease outbreaks, global issues, etc. A severe flood can ruin an entire corn crop. An outbreak of disease can negatively impact beef production. A tornado can wipe out an entire operation. An early freeze can destroy a crop. This list can go on and on; however the point is that farmers still push on no matter what the risk. They remain optimistic and do not fear what the future may hold. They focus on producing a safe and wholesome product. So yes, you should definitely thank a farmer.
  8. I think it is safe to say that farmers are some of the best examples of how neighbors should treat one another. Yes, I know there are probably some of you out there who have neighbors that cause you grief. However, when it comes right down to it, farmers always seem to step in when help is needed or tragedy strikes. Look at the community in Illinois that lost a farmer or at how an abundance of farmers came together to help a family of a fallen farmer in Iowa. People came from miles around to help these families get their harvests done. Why is this important? We live in a society where good is overlooked by so much evil going on. It is so humbling to see just how strong the farming community is. So yes, you should definitely thank a farmer.
  9. Stemming from the previous reason, farmers demonstrate what it means to stand united. Obviously with everything going on in our nation’s capitol and other issues occurring all over the world with constant controversy, it is once again so humbling to see a group of people who work together and who help each other. Farmers truly do that. An example of this can be seen in how farmers from all over the United States acted to help those in South Dakota affected by the tragic blizzard that struck there.  “Within the ranching community we are helping each other and doing what needs to be done. Working together to help our neighbors regardless of how financially hurt we are” (Agricultureproud.com).  Farmers also stand united when protecting the agriculture industry from false accusations made by animal rights organizations. Standing united is definitely an important part of the farming community. So yes, you should definitely thank a farmer. 20131020-204715.jpg
  10. Let’s face it. Agriculture in the United States is what makes the country what it is today. This is important for U.S. citizens because we live in a land where we have an abundance of safe, wholesome food at a very affordable price. For those in other countries, a strong U.S. agricultural industry means the opportunity for others to import U.S. products, as well as adopt farming methods that could lead to increased productivity. We truly are so fortunate to have a strong agricultural industry. We have no other people to thank other than our farmers and ranchers. So yes, you should definitely thank a farmer. 
  11. Farmers are caretakers of the land. Land use for farming is a very precious resource. With that being said, it must be properly cared for in order to remain productive in years to come. Farmers are adopting methods by which will conserve land, water and soil. Erosion control practices, rotational planting, rotational grazing and different tilling practices are just a few examples of steps farmers are taking to ensure land’s productivity. In addition, farmers provide habitat for wildlife – providing for at least 75% of the nation’s wildlife. Despite what some may say about farming destroying our environment, farmers truly do care about the land. So yes, you should definitely thank a farmer.
  12. From my own personal experiences, I think it is safe to say that farmers are major contributors in their communities. Whether it be 77aefda9-da0d-4379-9635-b83e1b1fd312donating to their local FFA chapters, 4-H clubs, booster clubs, fair boards, etc., farmers do take part in giving back to their respected communities in some way no matter how financially strapped they may be. In my community of Billings, Missouri, farmers do so much for this town. They provide assistance in weather events (tornadoes in 2003 and 2006, the ice storm of 2007 just to name a few), they support our high school, provide animals/equipment for educational events. I’m sure it is like this in every community, which to me is so amazing. So, yes you should definitely thank a farmer.
  13. Farmers endure so much to produce food that is safe, abundant and affordable for consumers. You may be asking yourself, “Why would someone want to endure so much, not make an abundance of money and not know what each year holds?” The answer is simple. Farmers are passionate about what they do. They love their lifestyle. They understand its importance. They value their livelihood. Farmers remain this way no matter what struggles and hardships they may be facing. Talk about determination, right? There is no doubt that farmers are underappreciated, undervalued and not given the respect they so deserve. With that being said, YES WE SHOULD DEFINITELY THANK A FARMER!

Hopefully this post has been an eye-opener to those who may not realize the importance of our farmers and ranchers. Hopefully it has provided farmers and ranchers with a sense of importance, as well as a sense of pride.

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The year 2013 has definitely been a good one when it comes to agvocating and reaching the public about the importance of agriculture. The “So God Made a Farmer Commercial,” numerous agricultural blogs that have went viral, parodies that have received millions of hits on YouTube and several stories about agriculture being shared on social media outlets are just some of the positive efforts that have happened this year. We also cannot complain about this years growing seasons. Of course, there were some hardships too. The South Dakota blizzard, the tornadoes that ravaged Oklahoma and Illinois, major flooding events, areas of drought and the recent ice storms are just some of the disasters that some of our farmers had to face. However, as I mentioned before, farmers are resilient and determined to keep pushing forward.

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Now it is time for you to take action. Thank a farmer. Respect a farmer. Next time you find yourself behind a slow tractor or combine on the road and become irritated, remember it is those people who feed you. Just do what Craig Morgan sings and “smile and wave, and tip your hat to the man (or woman) in the tractor!” If you drive by a farm and see a farmer working, give them a thumbs up and a wave. Just be grateful and thankful for them. Show some appreciation and respect!

Dodge Ram declared 2013 as the Year of the Farmer. I vote we all take a stand, raise our voices, be thankful for our farmers and make every year a year of the farmer. So share this, share the “So God Made a Farmer” video, share another blog you like that talks about the importance of farmers/agriculture. Just take action to help educate the public about the importance of farming!

Farmers, thank you for all you do!

Until next time…

God Bless You All!

~Ali

My farming family!

My farming family!

Growing Up on a Farm: 25 Facts About Being a Farm Kid!

This post is dedicated to all you past, present and future farm kids out there. There may not be very many of us, but we truly are  one-of-a-kind. In all honesty, I don’t know of a better way to grow up. Yes, we worked hard. Yes, we can tell stories all day long about our experiences both good and bad. Most importantly, yes we are proud to be farmers’ sons and farmers’ daughters. We are proud to be born and raised farm kids.  We are proud to be future farmers.

There is no doubt….WE REALLY ARE LUCKY!

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There have been several blog posts containing lists being shared on Facebook and Twitter right now. These lists, which deal with topics from growing up in a small town to reasons why you should date a teacher, inspired me to write about the farm kid life. For all you farm kids out there, you know we had a very special upbringing that many do not understand. With this in mind, I decided to come up with 25 truths that most farm kids could relate to in some way.

To me (and I think many will agree), being raised on a farm is a gift and something we should definitely treasure. We learn things that will be with us the rest of our lives. I could literally go on and on about how lucky farm kids really are. Whether you were raised on a farm or are just simply curious about the farm kid life, I hope you enjoy this list I have come up with. Don’t be afraid to smile, laugh and take a trip down memory lane! I know I did 🙂

20131122-121759.jpg25 Farm Kid Truths….here we go!

1. When you were first asked what you want to be when you grow up, you could not think of anything other than a farmer. Duh! 

2. Yeah, those Hot Wheels, Barbie Dolls, Nintendo’s were all oh so cool. BUT nothing compared to your farm toys and figurines. Those John Deere tractors, plastic hay bales, plastic cows, horses, trucks, etc. They were your favorites that you played with ALL the time.

3. No Christmas list was complete without those farming toys. Ertl farm sets, more toy tractors, more farm animals…you needed to make your “farm” bigger.

4. No matter how hard your mom tried for you to have “good clothes” and “chore clothes,” and/or “good shoes” and “chore shoes,” everything you had turned into clothes you got dirty outside. Your excuse? “Sorry mom, I forgot…”

5. You learned some of the most random things…most of the time, the hard way. Examples?? You learned that if you got stuck in the mud while wearing your muck boots, you better just stay put and wait for help. You learned that your parents weren’t kidding when they said the fence was “hot.” You learned to avoid crawling through or over barbed wire fences. You learned that no matter how “cute” little mice looked or how tempting it was to pick one up to tease your sibling(s) with, those suckers would bite if you messed with them. You learned where not to hold a bottle when bottle feeding a baby calf. This list could go on and on. 20131122-121739.jpg

6. Here are some of the rules you were given when you went and played outside. Don’t go to the road, don’t go near the bull, if you open a gate then you better shut it, do not turn on/operate any piece of equipment, DON”T GO TOO FAR,, don’t hurt your brother/sister, blah blah blah. We all heard it.

7. You learned at a very young age that you needed to pray every day. Granted, yes we need to do that every single day. However, you prayed for things most kids would not even think about. You prayed for rain during a drought. You prayed for a good harvest. You prayed for sunshine when hay needed to be made. You prayed for your animals. You understood just how important faith in farming is.

8. The worse forms of punishments in fact were not getting spanked. The worse forms of punishment included picking rocks out of dirt lots and walking through fields with a feed sack and scissors cutting thistles. Even worse than that? Being told to stay in the house. Ughhhh!!!!!

9. You have been chased by a chicken, bucked off a horse, cut by a barb-wire fence, kicked by a cow, fallen face first in mud, fell out of a tree and/or have fallen off a tractor/truck/trailer (just to name a few) on a few occasions. Funny thing is, it did not slow you down one bit. 1016244_10201392292111296_1643819930_n

10. You did not open your Christmas gifts on Christmas morning or go trick-or-treating on Halloween until all the chores were done. And you did not complain about it.

11.  The best bonding time with your daddy came from sitting on his lap in the tractor. You seriously felt like the luckiest kid alive. What made you feel even luckier? Riding with your daddy in the combine! Also, let’s face it. Whatever your daddy’s favorite kind of tractor was, well it was yours too.

12. Your momma cooked the best home-cooked meals. She was the best at making those daily bumps, scrapes and bruises that we would always get all better. She could get manure and oil stains out of anything. She could then go outside run a tractor, haul cattle to town, tend to a sick calf, haul hay and back a trailer just as good (or sometimes even better) than your daddy and the other farm hands could.

untitled13. Hay season, planting, chopping, etc. were like mini Christmases to you. You could ride in the tractor all day long, your meals were brought out to you, you could even stay up past your bedtime sometimes…

14. Yes, we had our swing sets, trampolines, sand boxes, etc. However, those were not the coolest things to play with. The coolest things were round bales, livestock trailers, piles of seed, skipping rocks at the pond  and stuff like that. Now that was fun!

15. You could operate equipment, drive a tractor, drive the farm truck and run the 4-wheeler at a very young age. (I won’t exactly specify what age this is, but let’s just say it is way before the age of 15.)

16. You could tell if a cow was calving by the age of eight. You got to see more live animal births of any kids in your class. Once again, cool kid status reached! While we are on the subject, you could tell if an animal was sick. You could determine how crops were doing. You could count hay bales during hay season. You knew a great deal about medicines, fertilizers and other farming practices. You were that smart.

17. You have had the opportunity to see more sunrises and more sunsets than most kids your age did. That is pretty cool.sunset

18. You had manners and learned to respect your elders. You learned the importance of listening and following instructions. You quickly learned the value of a dollar. You just learned lesson after lesson day after day.

19. You strongly disliked going to school sometimes because you could not stand to be locked up inside. You’d much rather be outside working on the farm, no matter how it was like outside. It would literally drive you insane. (Sidenote, all of your projects/assignments somehow incorporated farming into them.)

20. You had that one animal: One dog, one cat, one cow, one horse, one something that was your buddy and at the time, your best friend. That special animal is one you will never forget.

21. Your senior pictures, prom pictures, graduation pictures, etc. have a tractor, truck, FFA jacket and/or livestock in them more than once.200592_1002209537548_6788_n

22. You were proud to be a member of 4-H and/or FFA.

23. The older you got, the more responsibilities and chores you were given. No we were not slaves of our parents. No we were not “overworked.” Our parents were teaching us one of the most valuable lessons a person could learn – that is RESPONSIBILITY!

24. You understand the value of hard work, commitment, good character, good business and dedication. Farming is no easy task, and you fully comprehend the fact that these values will benefit you the rest of your life. These values will lead to success and you know it.

25. You realize just how lucky you are to have grown up on a farm. You realize that you want your future kids to grow up on a farm too because there really is not an upbringing that can compare. ❤

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I hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I did writing it. One thing I know for sure is  that I am so proud to be considered one of these kids. If you are, share this! Show the world you’re proud of it too. Better yet, thank your parents for giving you the rare opportunity to grow up as a farm kid.  

Thanks so much for reading this post. As always, God Bless You All!

Until next time…

~Ali~20131122-121833.jpg20131122-121808.jpg20131122-121818.jpg

Agriculture… “It has led me here to this”

These past few weeks, I have had several moments where I have thought about how I have gotten to the point I am at today. How has my decisions affected the person I am, the person I want to be and the person I will be in the future? How exactly have I ended up where I am? Besides the fact that God has blessed me beyond measure and the support I have received from my family, I can only think of one other answer to this question. The answer is agriculture.

To back this story up some, I should begin by discussing my upbringing and background. I grew up on a dairy farm. I was put on a horse (and even Brown Swiss cows) before I could walk, I started helping in the milk barn before I even started kindergarten and can remember getting into some trouble doing things that typical farm kids do. So yes, agriculture has been with me from day one. I was always active in 4-H and FFA by showing cows and horses and participating in contests. However, looking back to my senior year in high school, pursuing a career in agriculture did not even cross my mind.

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Many people can’t believe this because they’ve always known me to be the ag kid of my class and even of all my sisters. I actually thought I wanted to become a physical therapist (all I saw were dollar signs) and eventually work at St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital in Memphis. In my head this sounded like the perfect plan, but when it came right down to it, my heart was leading me in a completely opposite direction. When I attended freshman orientation at Missouri State University, the realization hit that physical therapy was not my fit. I had a small meltdown when I got home from the first day of orientation because I felt like my future was blurred. What was I going to do with my life? How would I figure out what I wanted to do? Luckily, my dad agreed to go to the second day of orientation with me so I would not have a complete anxiety attack. I am so glad he did!!! He was the one who took me to see the head of the William H. Darr School of Agriculture which ended up being one of the most influential days of my life.

Within 30 seconds of being in the school of agriculture, I knew I had found my “home.” There was no doubt that agriculture was my future and that it was where I belonged. The four years I spent working on my undergraduate degree were some of the most memorable times of my life. I surpassed the expectations I had of myself—I went from a shy, unconfident girl to a woman who has utmost belief in herself to make a difference in this crazy world we live in and to keep agriculture a strong industry. Everything I learned from growing up on a farm- including hard work ethic, determination, teamwork and leadership- pushed me to be a strong student and leader. I also overcame the fear of stepping up out of my comfort zone and experiencing as much as possible. Internships, joining the Missouri State Equestrian Team, becoming an officer in student organizations on campus and becoming more involved in my community were just a few that happened because of this. I quickly learned that hard work and taking risks really does pay off, and also that I should always have faith. When I reflect on my entire undergraduate experience, it does not seem real. (I also do not know how I was able to do so many things in four short years!) These years developed me into the person I am today and have made me fully understand how important it is to stand up, protect and fight for our agriculture industry.

As many know, I am now in graduate school at Missouri State working on my master’s degree in agricultural communications. Has it been stressful? Most definitely, but I know it is going to be well worth it. I feel like I am just being primed to be an influential “agvocate” and promoter of the agricultural industry. Whether it be public relaitons, promotion, marketing, writing, broadcasting or whatever else, I believe that I will be well prepared for whatever my future career has in store. I do know that I want to do whatever I can to help our farmers because it is them who keeps us all alive. I want to do my part in educating the public about where their foods comes from so that they will not be influenced by extreme animal/environmental activists and so that they will learn to have a greater respect for farmers/ranchers. I also want to do my part in ensuring that future generations will not go hungry. And above all, I want to do all I can to keep agriculture thriving in the United States.

So when asked how or what has been a major impact of my life, I can safely say this. God, my family and agriculture has! My journey has been a pretty crazy one; however I feel so humbled and blessed. I am so fortunate to have be part of a great agriculture school and also to have a strong agriculture background.

Next time you find yourself pondering about how you have gotten where you are in your life, tell us about it. Share your story!

As I wrap up this extremely long post, I want to say this-

The world of agriculture has led me here to this!

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