Temperatures are pushing 100 degrees, and a strong, hot wind is blowing. This is wheat harvest time in Kansas. Itís when farmers are at the forefront as they bring the crop in, which is their livelihood. But, really, itís everyoneís harvest time.
Agriculture is such an important part of the Kansas economy and of the nationís. Although only 1.7 percent of the nationís population is actively involved in agriculture, it represents 25 percent of the economy. Those are staggering numbers, really.
It also highlights the trickle-down effect of what the economic impact means to the state and nation. If farmers canít buy that new pickup or other big-ticket item because of the low prices of wheat this year, it hurts Main Streets all across the county. The list of those scenarios is endless.
From all indications, this will be a bumper crop of wheat in Kansas Ė if the hail or whatever other calamity can happen doesnít happen Ė when itís put in the bin. But in the $4-a-bushel range, thatís barely breaking even. Not the kind of crop needed to purchase a $300,000 combine.
But that goes with harvest territory Ė every year. There are some breaks, such as the low price of fuel this year. However, farmers also have to contend with the annual perils of weather, insects and disease. The farming community is used to it.
It is also a part of the community every season to band together to help out an ailing neighbor. It happened again this week with Reno County farmer Al Miller, who was diagnosed with bone cancer just a few weeks ago, had to go to Virginia for treatment and couldnít harvest this yearís crop.
Not only did his son, Verlin, return from California to harvest his dadís wheat, but neighbors for miles came from their own fields to help cut Millerís crop. It happens every year, but itís always heartwarming to hear the stories of neighbor helping neighbor.
Farming isnít for everyone. Itís a lot of sweat and faith to keep going, and feed not just the nation but the world. We should salute our farmers year-round, not just at harvest. After all, they feed us every day, and how their profit goes, so goes ours.