You have heard it, and most certainly you have lived it — “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” If your childhood, like mine, was blessed with time spent with an older generation then you probably heard the wise words to be grateful for the struggling years. There are so many sectors in agriculture facing the same financial fate in 2016, low to negative returns. As a business person, it is not wrong to focus on the economics, however; sometimes we lose sight of the smallest blessings.
Thankful for the land
The more I travel, the more I appreciate the diversity of America’s landscape. As a member of the agriculture community, it is wonderful to step outside, breathe the fresh air, pause to soak up a sunset or gaze at the stars. Each cubbyhole of the world totes its own attributes. Even if the day is your worst to date, there are still subtle reminders surrounding us and reminding us to say a quiet thank-you.
Thankful for the animals
I am thankful every day for all God’s creatures. He gives us animals to nourish our body and soul. Spiritually, animals — in general — serve a great purpose in our daily walks of lives — always listening and judging. The animals raised for food are special in their own right by providing nourishing nutrients for our body, keeping us healthy. I am always thankful for the passionate caretakers blessed with the talent to care for the animals.
Thankful for consumers
We are all consumers. As farmers and ranchers, we have a love-and-hate relationship with the consumer. The consumer is the boss and at times can place agriculture in a box, limiting future advancements. Still, we can produce all animal proteins and crops to feed the world 10 times over, but without the consumer around the world to buy the food, we are sunk. So, as consumers sit down to enjoy the fruits of the agriculture community’s labor, say a thankful blessing for them.
Thankful for the fellow farmer
I am blessed to walk among the greatest people on the face of the earth — farmers and ranchers. I really cannot remember a day that I don’t spend talking to at least one farmer about agriculture. I enjoy the side conversation perhaps more than writing your stories. You are the bread and butter of this society. The long heritage of grit and grime really makes you shine. Putting all differences aside, we should be thankful for each other. Many in the anti-agriculture community have criticized farmers for being a tight-knit group with some secret club. In reality, it is probably we actually take the time to communicate with each other and invest in each other’s lives. So be appreciative of differing opinions, contrasting farming styles and a universal love for agriculture.
Thankful for rough times
Boots on the ground as a writer, I see the stress in the eyes of many farmers and ranchers these days. As a child of the local grain elevator and feed mill, I know firsthand how the cycles of agriculture can make or break a person. It tests all your abilities to remain positive, it wreaks havoc with your physical and emotional well-being.
As a farmer, I feel your struggles and share in your worries. Eight dollar hogs, drought-stricken crops are too fresh in our memory. You wake up every morning, watch the markets drop to new lows and ask yourself “why do I farm” — “Why is ‘THIS’ my dream job”. Honestly, on those unpleasant days on the farm when nothing goes right and the day never seems to end, you start to question your quest to farm. Yet, deep down you know why you farm and you cannot even picture walking away. Although it does not seem possible in the bad moments, but better days are ahead, and we must keep moving forward without losing it all.
While you carry those worries on your shoulders, you still continue to farm on with pride, treating the land and animals with the deepest respect it deserves despite the downturn cycle. And this is the biggest blessing of all — America’s farmers and ranchers who have a level of care, common sense and grit that no other industry can match.