A farmer's appeal to farmers on sticking together in a complicated world.
Two of my favorite country songs revolve around bars. Shocking I know that a country song would somehow involve drinking, but it isn't the drinking aspect of the songs that I love. There are a lot of country songs that talk about drinking. These are more about friendship and the diversity that makes us great. When you walk into a bar there are only people there, not a definition of who the people are. People are accepted for who they are no matter what baggage they are bringing in with them. They are just your fellow patrons.
A disturbing trend that seems to be taking place, both in the public square and social media, is the lack of acceptance of those that think different, vote different, dress different, etc. Somehow, we have lost our ability to realize that the beauty of what makes us work as a society is that we are different individuals and it takes all types to make this thing called life function.
A number of years ago, when my wife and I, along with my parents, were trying to determine if we would be able to come back to the farm, we did a Returning to the Farm seminar. One of the components was doing a MBTI test to help determine strengths, weaknesses, potential conflict areas and potential areas for growth. One of the major things we learned was that my wife and I are nearly 100% opposite and that quite possibly my wife and my dad could more properly function on the business together than my dad and I could. The key takeaway for me, that we still use today, is that my wife and I do things different, look at things different and respond different. It is a challenge but it also brings a great balance to our marriage and our family.
But what does this have to do with farming? It is all about coexistence. It is working together to reach a common goal. In the case of our marriage it is to have a happy marriage and raise a family that is prepared to go out into the world. In the farming world it is working together to raise the highest quality, most consistent and identity-preserved crop in the entire world. It is about coming together to raise the barn, to have a place we can all be proud to call home. A place where everyone, no matter what they grow or how they grow, can coexist.
Coexistence sounds like a great buzzword, but does it really matter? If we are all raising crops, what difference does it make? But in today's market, today's environment, today's social media world, coexistence makes all the difference in the world. If we don't start looking at the farming community as that bar where everyone is accepted, we will not like where it leads.
Farming has been in my blood from the point of conception. Most of us in the farming world can say the same thing. But we are losing sight that farming is the same thing anywhere you are in the world. Taking a seed, or animal, and nurturing it to the best of our ability to help it produce the highest quality product we can. Does it matter if it is GMO, non-GMO, or organic? Does it matter if I am using a 600 hp tractor, a team of oxen, or using human labor? No, it doesn't.
But too often, farmers draw battle lines that do not need to be drawn. Lines over the "proper" way to grow a crop or raise animals. It is one thing to argue about red versus green tractors when we all realize they do the same thing. It is something entirely different when we start denigrating other farmers because they way they farm doesn't fit our preconceived idea of the "proper way".
Farming is that bar. At the end of the day we are there to grow a crop and all of our yields come together to help feed and fuel an ever-growing world. We need to get back to respecting and encouraging each other in the way we choose to farm.
The views expressed in this article are the author's alone and not those of Farmer's Business Network, Inc., its affiliates or members.