Normal 0 false false false

As millions of hard-working employees commute to offices,skyscrapers and boardrooms each morning, my husband dons his coveralls, Muckboots and mud-covered gloves for another day among the cattle and crops on our McPherson County farm. Recently it was nothingshort of exhausting for him and others trying to welcome calves into two feetof snow and 40 mile-per-hour winds. But he, like any dedicated business owner,knows that success requires continual sacrifice and unwavering dedication.

My husband is one of the millions of hard-working business ownersthat make Americawhat it is today. The future of the farm, and our livelihood, is dependent onhis ability to efficiently raise crops and cattle and make ends meet, yearafter year. Like so many fellow business owners, my husband has dreams ofexpanding his farm to support our family and grow his business.

But unlike Main Street employers who are praised for adding jobsand growing their bottom line, farmers like my husband are looked down upon bymany consumers for expressing dreams of growth and prosperity. It seemsAmericans like success among their merchants - Wall Street demands it and oureconomy thrives on it - but their pension for growth stops at the city line.Farms and ranches are increasingly being criticized for growth and expansionwith the term "corporate farming" being applied to anything over thetraditional two-cow, 80-acre farm of the past. If America's farming population isgoing to continue meeting the dietary demands of our growing world, thepublic's perception of successful farming must be altered.

Environmental and animal rights groups in our country have beguna campaign to change America'sperception of farming, urging consumers to crave the farms of yesteryear, when80 acres, two cows and a handful of chickens was the norm. But the migration ofAmericans to the suburbs has left about 1 percent of the population with thetask of feeding the remaining 99 percent. In 1940, one Kansas farmer fed 19 people; today thatnumber is more than 155, and in about 20 years it will exceed 200 people.Farmers and ranchers have kept pace with demand through innovation andtechnology. Equipment covers more acres in less time, cattle gain more weightin a shorter amount of time, and seeds produce more ears of corn than everbefore. Americans have only benefited through sufficient food supplies and morechoices than ever before.

We, as farmers and ranchers, play a huge part in changing publicsentiment. We must show consumers that the real image of a large farm is eerilysimilar to that of a family portrait with a father, mother, children andextended family working together to feed livestock, grow crops and make theirbusiness as efficient as possible. Most, if not all, of the farms found withinour great state are owned and operated by individuals like my husband. Becauseof the capital required to continue in agriculture, some farms have adoptedinvestors, but unlike corporate America, where the top is separated from thelabor, daily operating and purchasing decisions are still made at the groundlevel, in offices adjacent to the wheat fields, feeding pens and milkingparlors.

Yes, the size of farms and livestock operations has grown. In1960, Kansasfarms averaged about 450 acres in size; today that number is near 700 acres.But the family ownership remains the same. Many of these farms employ 10 to 20people and support the businesses and schools in their communities. Childrenare leaving to earn a college degree and returning to the farm to carry it intothe next generation and raise their children in the lifestyle they grew tolove.

Several of the nation's largest food and agriculture businesseshave come together to form the United States Farmers and Rancher Alliance andthe Faces of Farming campaign with the goal of putting a face on America'sfarming community - both large and small.

And at the local level, we must continue to remind our friends,family and neighbors that we are the faces behind the farms that feed theworld. This winter, my husband and his father will help more than 300 cowsdeliver calves. They will take the time to check the health and welfare of eachnew calf and, when necessary, administer a little extra care and attention toensure that calf makes it to adulthood. That's part of farming and it's whathappens on all farms, large and small.

Agriculture should be praised for its innovation, but instead itgets told that bigger isn't better and growth should be left to storefronts,not silos. The future of our country depends on the success of agriculture. Wemust praise the growth and efficiencies found on the farms across our state andremind consumers that growth and success are good for business both downtownand out of town.


Katie and her husband,Derek, raise crops and cattle on their family farm outside McPherson. She worksfull-time off the farm as a marketing manager and is a spokeswoman forCommonGround Kansas.She and Derek are also involved in the KansasFarm Bureau. Read more on Katie's blog at

st1:*{behavior:url(#ieooui) } /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt; mso-para-margin:0in; mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:10.0pt; font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-ansi-language:#0400; mso-fareast-language:#0400; mso-bidi-language:#0400;}