Modern Farmers Play Many Roles

A farmer’s work today is not just growing crops but running a business, acting as a scientist, and developing agricultural methods that yield results. In case you missed them in the February Tell Me More newsletter, read the testimonials below to find out more about the many hats that farmers wear.

“Modern agriculture has always been a part of my life and, as someone who is still directly involved with farming, the difference between public perception and reality is easy to see. It is often simplified and romanticized. Farmers are businessmen, engineers, scientists, weathermen, drivers, builders, vets and many other occupations all rolled into one strenuous job. There is nothing simple about that.”
      – Jake, Washington, D.C.

“A grower’s mandate is actually an extremely consuming commitment that is filled with risk and requires that growers make the right decisions at the right time in order to be profitable. They have to be knowledgeable and aware of a host of conditions in order to be able to make those decisions appropriately to harvest a crop successfully. They are required to play many roles: regulations expert, financier, accountant, resource allocator, insurance specialist, agronomist, irrigation specialist, weed management expert, machinery repairman, marketer, social media expert, communicator and more. As a result, it’s become very apparent to me that growers are literally married to their farm. And there’s no real vacation from the life of growing food, fuel and fiber.”
      – Casey, North Carolina

“We had a family friend who was a corn and soybean farmer so during planting season, I made a phone call to him and asked if I could learn more about his operation….My generation’s perception of a farmer entails [a man] getting up before the sun rises, only to sit at the kitchen table with a cup of coffee and a plate of scrambled eggs with the paper open to the weather page before stepping outside to start his day. A day of working in dirt and dust, sitting in a tractor, having lunch brought out by his wife, driving back and forth in their field all day long until the sun sets, only to begin the same the next day….

In reality, farmers of today are businessmen (as I quickly learned). I watched the farmer negotiate grain prices, monitor yield results from his smart phone, listen to the radio tuned to NPR where they were discussing the latest on the farm bill and decide what hybrid corn to plant for the next year. Farmers these days have to be able to understand the economics, politics and business decisions that encompass the business of being a farmer, not just in the field doing hard labor. The cost of machinery, fertilizers, feed and seed, planning, tilling, spraying, and harvesting all require the appropriate education for a successful operation. An operation that helps feed the world.

We need to change the public’s perception and profile of agriculture from “dirty work” to that of an all-encompassing businessperson with roles in marketing, economics, public relations, engineering and science. As I learned, farming in today’s world is more robust than most people realize.”
      – Stacey, Minnesota

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