Last Saturday night, I had an opportunity to speak at the Barnes County Farm Bureau annual meeting. I don’t think I’ve spoken at a county annual meeting since about 1999 or 2000. It was the Towner County Farm Bureau Annual Meeting in Cando. I don’t even remember the topic, but I think I tried to be humorous, talking about how I came from a Farmers Union family. (When I got the job with Farm Bureau, I didn’t realize the difference in philosophy.) I don’t remember if I was successful or not. (But I was never asked back, so maybe that’s a clue, eh?)
I do, however, remember I practiced my “speech” all the way there. Fast forward 15 or 16 years and I’m still practicing my “speech” in the car, all the way there.
But when I got to the Barnes County Farm Bureau meeting, I realized that maybe the “speech” I had practiced needed to be more of a heart-felt talk about sharing personal stories about why farmers and ranchers farm and ranch.
In fact, I pulled out the “I farm because” postcards that we made up for Farm Bureau Week last March and said, “Take the time to fill this out and even if you don’t share it with me, share it with someone.”
Why? Because “Once upon a time, a farmer said, ‘I farm because I want to make the land unusable for the next generation, and I want to drain all the potholes so the ducks have no place to land.’ ”
Said. No. Farmer. Ever!
The point I was trying to make was that too many people who DON’T farm believe the fairy tale. And so many farmers are private by nature, so people tend believe the loudest voice even if it is a totally inaccurate, bordering on ludicrous voice.
When I went through all the postcards I received from that “I farm because,” exercise, how many of them do you think said, “I farm because I want to be rich.” Not one.
Everyone used terms like “passion for taking care of the land,” and “values and responsibilities,” and “there is no better feeling than watching your crops grow.”
This one is actually my very favorite…
Yep. Pretty much sums it up, doesn’t it? Farming is a business, yes, and farmers need to be profitable to stay in business, but it isn’t profit that drives them. It is a connection with the soil, with the animals, with the sense of responsibility for future generations.
And hey, if you don’t feel comfortable sharing your voice with others, I’d be happy to come out and video tape you. Just drop me a line. And just so you know what you are getting into, here are the #ifarmbecause interviews we have already taped: #ifarmbecause NDFB YouTube playlist. I’m always looking for more!