Will Rogers statement reminds me of my grandfather, as well as husband, father-in-law and mother-in-law, aunts, uncles and countless others who battle the elements to work the land and provide basics that society relies on every day, three times a day.
They are the epitome of the statement: “Farming is like any other job, only you punch in at age five and never punch out.”
While National Agriculture Week wrapped up last week, I wondered why only seven days are taken to officially recognize the industry that’s the bread and butter for our state’s economy and contemplated how much people really know about the backbone of the bread basket. Do many of us take for the granted the contributions farmers make for our daily needs? Perhaps.
Or perhaps people fit Dwight D. Eisenhower’s quote: “Farming looks mighty easy when your plow is a pencil and you’re a thousand miles from the cornfield.
Sometimes, that pencil is sharpened, thanks to a solid education, and returns to improve and advance the cornfield.
My husband jokes that it takes a college degree to set up the computer program in the tractor. Since 1983, the number of farmers who have received college degrees has increased over 50 percent. Just over 30 percent of farmers and ranchers have attended college and most have obtained a degree, ranging from agri-business to management to agronomy.
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack wrote, “One out of every 12 jobs in the economy is connected in some way, shape, or form, to what happens on the farm.”
Think about the food supply chain and the process of farm to plate. Farm and Dairy, an agriculture news source, reports that 210,000 full-time farmers produce 80 percent of food and fiber in the United States. The average farmer feeds 155 people, and when foodstuffs show up on the grocer’s shelves, farmers receive less than 12 cents for ever dollar spent.
Farming isn’t a get-rich quick adventure, but Grandpa would say that with planning and saving, you could get by.
Agriculture advocate Shawn Stevenson wrote, “Most Americans are two to four generations removed from the farm. The general public has very little idea of what agriculture is about.”
Our grandsons are two generations removed. While they like accompanying Grandpa Scott to the farm – probably to chase Copper and Duke, the farm dogs, and sneak in a four-wheeler ride – an ulterior motive exists when they say “Please, Grandpa, can I go to the farm with you?”
My hopes are that they learn by example and eventually emulate his work ethic, notice his patience and concern when caring for animals and gain an appreciation for and become stewards of the land.
Of course, a tractor ride against an amarillo backdrop filled with marshmallow-white clouds, never hurts, either.
Farming tells a story of hard work, characterized by the past, existing for the present. How will the next chapter begin?