learning

Agvocate or Aggravate?

If you are reading this, it is likely you read other agricultural and farming blogs as well so you may have noticed this “trend” that I will be discussing. There are more and more people writing blogs, social media posts, etc advocating for agriculture (agvocate). While having additional people working to bring awareness to agriculture and farming we need to be careful how we are going about it. I’ve recently noticed a spike in the amount of anger displayed in Blogs, Facebook postings, Tweets, etc. Remember we are trying to Agvocate not Aggravate our audience.

I 100% understand that many times these postings are written in response to something and you are angry, but to the non-farming community you can easily seem like a mean, cruel person with anger issues. This is not how we should be promoting a cause we feel so strongly about. It is due to these strong feelings about our way of life that we allow these emotions to take over our work, but at what cost? I also get fired up when a company/corporation condemns GMO’s or herbicide use, when a politician proposes legislation without understanding the entire impact, when the major news media mostly ignores the wildfires that destroyed so much, but anger isn’t always the best delivery method of your message.

Of course that angry blog post reaches a lot of readers and that video rant posted on Facebook gets a couple thousand views and a few hundred shares, but it is usually the farming community reading and watching these posts, sharing with their friends and families, people that already understand where you are coming from. We as whole, need to do a better job taking a step back and a deep breath before trying to agvocate. As we strive to educate the public about all things ag. related, lets make sure we carry ourselves as professionally as possible so our audience is more likely to listen and understand without believing we are all angry, crazy people.

Raising Kids on the Farm

I recently saw a Facebook Post written by one of the popular Agvocates (I’m sorry, I can’t remember who it was that wrote it) talking about raising kids on the farm, chores, responsibilities, and allowances.

One of the questions asked was, “Should farm kids get paid to do chores?”. The comments section was exploding with opinions on this topic, answers were landing all over the board. Whether you think they should get paid monetarily or not doesn’t matter to me and each family is different. What I think we can all agree on however, is the lessons learned on the farm will take those kids further in life than some chore money ever will.

I make it no secret that I did not grow up on a farming operation. My father was a police officer, my mother was a paramedic and now a rural route mail carrier. Both were farm kids growing up, we lived on an acreage and I was raised in a manner similar to their own upbringing. We had rocks to pick and weeds to pull, buildings to maintain and construct, groves to clean up, trees to trim, the list goes on for miles and I was expected to pull my own weight. In addition to that some of my closest friends were farm kids were I was always willing to help out when visiting and I spent a considerable amount of time with my Grandparents in the summer on the farm. I learned a lot over the years about what it means to put in a hard days work, taking pride in a job well done, and always finishing a project that gets started.
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I am of the opinion that there is no better up bringing for a kid than on a farm. Children learn early on that everyone has responsibilities and a job to do before fun time begins, how to troubleshoot and fix a problem, working on a budget,how to help each other, and so much more. These traits are not only learned but become engrained in them, traits that shape who they are as a person. Life on the farm teaches so many life skills that it would be impossible to list them all.

These skills and traits stay with a person their whole lives, whether they stay on the farm or not. I spoke to an employer once about the perfect type of employee, he told me that when he is looking over resumes if he spots a candidate that was a member of 4-H or FFA or mentioned growing up on a farm, the resume goes towards the top of the stack. He said in his experiences employees that were raised on a farm have a better work ethic, better problem solving skills, more eager to do a job and do it well, and were almost always great team players.

I think we can all agree we want what is best for our kids and it is this sort of upbringing that can fix part of the troubles in society today. If you are raising a family on the farm I give you a pat on the back. It may not be easy, but in the long haul it will all be worth it in the end.

If You Aren’t Learning, You’re Losing

I know to most farmers the terms class, training, clinic, and seminar sound absolutely terrible. I, for one, am in the same boat. If someone approaches me about one of these learning events I usually dread it, but fact of the matter is if we aren’t actively learning we are losing. This isn’t to say that all learning comes from a class room and that all classes/clinics/trainings are created equally.

I recently attended one of Conklin’s Pro Ag 1 events. Pro Ag, for those that haven’t been to one, is a 2 day fundamentals of agronomy clinic. There, they discuss the importance of soil health, nutrient uptake of various crops, nutrient management (particularly nitrogen), importance of soil and tissue tests and how to read them, among other crop production practices and topics. Though this event is put on by a manufacturer of crop input products it is not a sales meeting. While at lunch the first day of this event, a gentleman at my table shared with me that it was refreshing to attend a corporate sponsored event that wasn’t about pushing product. I think its this pushy sales tactic used for years by many different companies that have turned us off on attending these events. I urge all farmers out there to attend a learning event or listen to a keynote speaker whether it is about crop production, livestock, or even tax planning. We just need to make sure the event we plan on attending is an event worth going to.

Now a class, clinic, or training isn’t the only way for us to learn and grow. Something as simple as talking to other farmers, even in different areas of the country can be very beneficial. Some of the best things I’ve ever learned about both crop production and raising livestock is from other farmers sharing experiences and ideas. There are many ways to connect with fellow farmers and ag. enthusiasts. Social media is a terrific way of connecting with others, my favorite is through Facebook groups. There are tons of agriculture groups to get hooked into. My favorite are, https://www.facebook.com/groups/agricultureproud/ and https://www.facebook.com/groups/midwestcropproducers/ as well as our very own group, https://www.facebook.com/groups/PROFOUNDAgriculture/

If we don’t do all we can to learn to be more efficient, more productive, and more sustainable we will suffer. Agriculture is in a tough place right now. It is no secret that the current prices are hurting us and input costs aren’t coming down very fast. We are under constant fire from people who don’t fully understand agriculture and where food comes from. Then, on top of it all, we have government agencies striving to make our lives more difficult with new regulations. We must learn to be productive despite all thats going on, while remaining profitable and sustainable.