“…For I know the joys and discomforts of agricultural life and hold an inborn fondness for those associations which, even in hours of discouragement, I cannot deny.”
Erwin Milton Tiffany, or E.M. Tiffany as many know him, left behind a legacy. Tiffany was born in Kansas and later became an agriculture teacher at the University of Wisconsin, where he composed a creed for the Future Farmers of America, as it was called then.
The National FFA Organization, as it is called now, holds the creed to a high standard, and many of us involved in the organization can recite part, most or all five paragraphs.
There’s no denying there are joyous moments in agriculture, but we also know there is no joy without some discomfort. Farmers and ranchers work hard because they love their noble profession. They also overcome challenging moments, days and sometimes years.
Those challenging times can be daunting. As a farmer in Montgomery County, I know the impacts weather can have on our industry. Leaving your livelihood up to Mother Nature is not an easy burden to carry. We get drought, excess rain, unwanted insects and wind. Sometimes we get devastating fires. These discomforts are harder to change than others, although advances in science helps us do more with less.
We’re currently experiencing a trade war with China – something that affects farmers, ranchers and consumers alike. Farmers and ranchers depend on access to markets around the globe to move their products. Sacrificing those opportunities is a step in the wrong direction for agriculture. We continue to work closely with American Farm Bureau Federation, our delegation in D.C., and the administration on finding a solution.
We know the discomfort of misinformation. Farmers and ranchers make up only 2 percent of the U.S. population. We have a job to do and it’s hard to dispel the rumors and myths and misconceptions while we’re working the land and ensuring our livestock are healthy. To get through to people, a great place to start is on social media platforms like Facebook. Tell your story. Answer those questions. You are the expert.
There cannot be joy without discomfort. If we didn’t know what a drought felt like, or didn’t know what a breakdown in the middle of harvest was like, we wouldn’t know the joys of a good rain or a breakdown-free harvest (if there ever was one).
Serving as president of the largest farm organization in Kansas, I come across a lot of people who understand the joys of agricultural life. It’s these we hold dear.
There’s nothing quite like seeing families work together to create safe, wholesome food for themselves and other families. Watching a young boy excited to help his parents during wheat harvest, or seeing a girl helping tend to the family’s cattle, makes anyone appreciate the present and remain hopeful for the future.
There’s joy in seeing something you planted and prayed for take root and turn into a thriving food source. The same goes for livestock producers who care for babies in their barns or put a cold calf in their truck to warm up and watch it prosper as it gains strength.
There’s nothing like getting a much-needed rain when the ponds are drying up and the crops are thirsty. Although weather is unpredictable, we are fortunate when it does rain, and we’re fortunate to have advanced technology to handle some drought stress if it doesn’t come when we prefer.
Talking to consumers about agriculture is one important part of what we do. When we connect with even one consumer who listens to our story and reacts in a positive manner, we’ve done our part. Be a friendly voice to someone who may be uncomfortable in their knowledge of agriculture, so they can turn to you with even the simplest questions. You live this life – they don’t. Be understanding and patient. Find a common interest.
Whether we’re experiencing joy or discomfort, I hold my inborn fondness of agriculture close to me and I carry it wherever I go – to the field, to Kansas Farm Bureau headquarters in Manhattan, to my legislators in Topeka and Washington, D.C. and to every consumers’ plate.
I believe in the present and future of agriculture, because of the joys and despite the discomforts. If you aren’t yet a member of Kansas Farm Bureau and you believe in our farmers and ranchers, support them. You can thank the producers of your food, fuel and fiber by way of a Farm Bureau membership in your county. For more information, visit www.kfb.org/join.