Farm Management Minute: A faith born of deeds

Lori Tonak
Instructor, South Dakota Center for Farm/Ranch Management

I have struggled writing an article in these trying times of agriculture. Stress has been high this past year with depressed prices, too much moisture, and all-around hard times for agriculture. What could I say that would help with anything farmers/ranchers are dealing with. All I could do is fall back to the creed that I learned in high school and taught for twenty years to secondary students — the FFA Creed by E.M. Tiffany.

Tiffany states in the first paragraph, “I believe in the future of agriculture, with a faith born not of words, but of deeds.” In these changing times, everyone who lives on the land, I think, still lives by this mantra. Whether you know this phrase from sitting in a high school agriculture class or are just reading it for the first time, this is who we are as farmers and ranchers. It takes faith to pray for rain, knowing that it could come in the form of hail. It takes faith to plant seeds in the ground every spring, nurture those seeds, and hope to get a harvest in the fall. It takes faith when the markets are on a downward trend and you have the best crop you have ever raised. It has taken a lot of faith this year just to keep going.

In the second paragraph of the FFA Creed, there is a line that says “…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.” As I have worked with producers this past year, I have witnessed this phrase time and time again. When flooding hit Nebraska, people did not throw in the towel; instead, those ranchers made plans on how they could get through the year and, hopefully, come out in good shape on the other side. When unprecedented moisture has created issues across the state, producers changed their plans of how they could utilize what acres were available. Agriculture producers also know the joys of agricultural life, such as, the calf standing to nurse shortly after being born, the smell of new mown hay, the green growth of plants in the spring, and seeing sons and daughters working along with parents and grandparents. These are just a few of the joys.

The fourth paragraph of the creed tells us things like “…in less need for charity and more of it when needed…” I think of the disasters that have hit our area over the past few years. This is a mantra many of the South Dakota residents, and farmers across the nation, live by, and I think it is because of our agricultural roots. When disaster hit Nebraska, farmers and ranchers in South Dakota, that were also struggling, donated feed, supplies, personal care items and money to assist neighbors to the south. This is a testament to the people that live on the land and their willingness to help out when someone else falls on hard times. I believe farmers and ranchers were the first group to pay it forward long before it was talked about in a movie.

I will close with the fifth paragraph E.M. Tiffany wrote: “I believe that American agriculture can and will hold true to the best traditions of our national life and that I can exert an influence in my home and community which will stand solid for my part in that inspiring task.”

If any producer would like more information on how the South Dakota Center of Farm and Ranch Management can help your operation, contact the SDCFRM office or any of our instructors, call 1-800-684-1969 or email us at