Read any post on my blog and you’ll quickly realize that I think American agriculture is something worth celebrating.
So obviously, I had to do a post for National Agriculture Day!
When many bloggers write about Ag Day, they focus on celebrating all the wonderful things about agriculture today and challenge you to “thank a farmer.”
I’m always up for a pat on the back, who isn’t?
That’s not what this post is about, though.
This post is for the next generation of agriculturalists.
For the ones who’ll be celebrating National Ag Day 10-20 years from now, my daughter’s generation.
The kids who are playing with toy tractors and herding stuffed cattle. Whose favorite playground is a hay barn or a feed bin.
Someday this precious world of agriculture that your parents and grandparents (and maybe even generations before that) have loved and fought for will be yours.
You are the select few who will nurture, cultivate and care for the land and livestock.
With the passing of this baton comes greater challenges than any generation before you has ever known.
Today you are still learning to count, but someday your generation will have to learn how to feed 9 billion people.
You will likely have less farm land available to you, as cities and subdivisions pop up where crops used to grow and cattle used to graze.
Like most farm parents, I wonder if I am preparing you for the great task that will be set before you.
Will you be equipped with the tools to be successful individually in agriculture, let alone as an industry?
So I offer this advice to you; to my daughter, my friends’ children and their entire generation.
– Pour your heart and soul into 4-H and FFA
I firmly believe that 4-H and FFA are the greatest youth organizations in the world.
Whether you learn to give speeches, judge livestock or weld, the experiences you have in 4-H and FFA will better prepare you for a future in agriculture than any elementary or high school class work ever could.
– You will never be finished learning about agriculture
You may have a college degree in agriculture and your whole lifetime of farm experience under your belt, but you are never finished learning.
Agriculture is an ever changing world. There are constantly new technologies, new developments, new production methods.
Don’t be that farmer who refuses to change just because “That’s not how Daddy did it.” I promise, your Daddy and Mama would much prefer you innovate and succeed than slowly go out of business because you are stuck in your ways.
Go to conferences, classes and seminars. Read books and industry magazines. Seek the advice of experts. Research innovations, see if they would be a good fit for your farm and embrace change.
– Fight for agriculture
Share your experiences as an agriculturalist. Whether in person or online or in whatever form of communication your generation uses, find your own way to share your story.
Campaign and vote for politicians who defend the rights of family farmers. Lobby for legislation that protects the American food supply. Meet with local politicians and school board members. Invite local classes to visit your farm on field trips.
We are fighting today so that we can pass this amazing industry and huge responsibility on to you someday. Carry on the legacy and keep fighting the good fight.
– Even if you don’t return to the farm, stay connected to agriculture
Not every farm kid is destined to be a farmer. That doesn’t mean that the lessons you learned in agriculture won’t be an important part of your daily life.
If you are a parent, teach your children where food comes from and how it is produced.
If you are a teacher, make agriculture a part of your science lessons. If you are a doctor, care for your patients with the same dedication and selflessness that you once cared for your sick livestock.
No matter what, don’t ever forget the hard work and determination that was instilled in you on the farm.
After all, you, each and every farm kid across the country, are the most important thing we’re raising on our farms.
You are our life’s work. You are our legacy.
As I tuck my little farm girl into bed tonight, I’ll pray that I’m preparing her a little more each day to face the challenge and carry on the tradition for many more National Ag Days to come. If I had to guess, I’d bet your parents are doing the exact same thing.