I remember being six years old, riding alongside my grandfather in the old red tractor, watching my father and uncle behind me pulling bales of hay from the bailer to the hay rack. It was a sweaty job even without the summer heat, which was there in force, and yet there they were, whistling and joking as if they weren’t doing the hardest job on the planet.
Of course, those of us in the industry know that “fun” isn’t the reason we do this job. We farm because it’s a worthy use of our time, energy, and talents. There aren’t many other jobs that require its workforce to be as lighthearted while doing all the heavy lifting; the truth is, as serious as we take our business, there is very little within our control. Mother Nature makes a moody co-worker, Old Man Winter isn’t afraid to hang out at the water cooler, and Father Time never misses a day of work, even it feels like he always leaves early. There aren’t many jobs as risky or as dangerous, and there also aren’t many jobs that make an equal impact on the global economy and the family dinner table.
Like any industry, farming is advancing at breakneck speeds. We can raise more cattle, produce more grain, and conserve more soil than ever, and we’re doing it faster, cleaner, and more safely. Food is becoming more and more affordable for everyone, and we’re wasting less and less, maximizing the physical effort that impossible to remove from this industry while removing the environmental strain.
Modern agriculture is just as much heart and soul as it is math, science, technology, and engineering. Even generational family farmers are getting college degrees to make sure they can compete and understand the latest advancements in the trade. Farming has gotten “easier” in the physical sense, but that doesn’t make the job any less difficult; there are still many ways a day, a crop, a herd, and a livelihood could go wrong. Technology won’t save us from hardship, but stubborn genetics give us a decent shot of surviving it.
Things have changed quite a bit since I was that six-year-old farm kid, but the fact remains that it’s only a little bit about the tools or the engines or what you’re pulling behind your hitch; more important is the tireless commitment of the farmer that wields it. Farming remains a community industry, and modern farming is growing that community while closing the gaps between food and hunger. We’re not just gathering around the dinner table, we’re gathering around generations of innovation, global influence, sacrifice, and respect for the land. That is what it takes to feed the world, and that is why we are here to do it.