Reflection and hope

by Pete Hanebutt, NDFB Public Policy Director

As we close 2022 and ring in the new year, it makes me both hopeful for the future and reflective on the past, particularly my years of service within the Farm Bureau family. I recall as a teenager going to 4-H Junior Leader Conference, and our county Farm Bureau President being there as we loaded the bus. They were our major sponsor and provided us with our green jackets. Before each 4-Her stepped into the bus, the president put their jacket on them and wished us well at the conference.

I also reflect on my first few years as a Farm Bureau Field Representative and the lessons I learned from tried-and-true leaders in each of my counties. I learned lessons on “how” and certainly “how not” from my mistakes and sometimes their misjudgments. It was a learning process for all and we grew together. I happened to follow a retiring field rep who had his own way of doing things, none of which was bad, but some things required a bit of modernization. I learned there were reasons why certain things had to be done a certain way, but my counties also learned that new ideas have merit when adapted to their needs.

Looking forward, I feel overwhelmingly positive about the future of America and our North American agriculture sector. It might be hard to remain positive with all the assaults we face from outside of production ag, including foreign governments, our own government of all things, and the general unfamiliarity of most Americans regarding our food supply chain or the support systems involved. But our past can be a guiding light to our future. We’ve experienced trade wars, or no trade, and more than one federal administration indifferent to our needs. Yet, through it all we have survived and thrived. And since we in agriculture have generational memories, we know our grandparents faced many of the same issues without the technologies we currently enjoy.

Photo by Pixabay on

In my experience within the Farm Bureau family, I’ve witnessed administrations at the state and federal level which have been hostile to modern production agriculture. How many of us can reflect on “the good old days” when we thought Jimmy Carter was as bad as it could get? And yet the pendulum often swings back, and the twenty-year average is positive for rural America. I know my grandfather experienced tough times during the Great Depression, exponentially worse than anything I’ve lived through. However, near the end of his life, he saw the beginning of the great green revolution which transformed American agriculture.

The new year changes just as the seasons change, and it’s all part of a cycle. The bad times are never as truly bad as we believed. Reflecting back years later, many of the bad times were not all that bad. Some of my parents’ best memories were of the simpler times when they were children and truly poor during the Depression. I also have good memories from when times weren’t perfect, but we made the best with what we had.

Sometimes I believe our only real enemy is our own attitude toward the challenges we face. It’s better to stay positive in the face of adversity no matter how daunting it may seem. Keep a positive attitude for the new year and you’ll make your own happiness throughout.


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