Farm Management Minute: I believe…

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Farm Forum

I started writing this article the middle of this past week; I was going to talk about animal health and nutrition. Plans changed as I was driving home from church on Sunday. I was looking out my window at the passing corn fields, with their curled leaves, trying to conserve moisture as they wait for rainfall. The news man on the radio started talking about the hail and wind damage around the Corsica/Stickney area. On Friday, I had returned from Minnesota and eastern South Dakota where plants are showing stress from too much water in the early part of the growing season. In other news this past week, there was still major unrest in the Middle East that was impacting markets on a daily basis. With all these things going through my mind, a creed that I learned in high school and taught for twenty years to secondary students popped into my head-“The FFA Creed” by E.M. Tiffany.

Tiffany stated 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.

This leads to the next phrase that ran through my head on my drive. 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. Ranchers that lost livestock in the Atlas Blizzard 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. Tornadoes ripped through ranches and farms in the Stephan/Wessington Springs/Alpena area and the owners started picking up the pieces of their buildings as they formulated a plan of what would come next. 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 state over the past few years, this is a mantra many of the South Dakota residents live by, and I think it is because of our agricultural roots. When the Missouri River flooded and a call went out for help to sand bag or build dykes to hold back the water, people showed up with equipment, physical labor, food, whatever was needed to help. After the Atlas Blizzard, farmers, ranchers, and agriculture industries around the state and country showed up to help ravaged ranchers. 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 SD 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 sdcfrm@mitchelltech.edu.