Farm Management Minute: I believe…

Farm Forum

This past month, I have driven across my territory where we have a seen an abundance of rain. Farmers are just starting to get back in the field and predictions of more rain are on the way at the beginning of the week. All forecasts for July/August are predicting above average temperatures with below normal rainfall. I am hoping these predictions are wrong, but we know it can easily happen on the Plains. My old home stomping grounds are still on the verge of drought as they received little snow this winter and have been on the short end of the rain this spring. 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. It takes faith when cattle markets take the biggest fall in the shortest time period in history.

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. Feedlot owners that saw a large plummet in cattle prices in a matter of weeks bringing monumental losses, something no one could plan for. A tornado that ripped through ranches and farms in the Delmont 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. After the Atlas Blizzard, farmers, ranchers, and agriculture industries around the state and country showed up to help ravaged ranchers. When tornadoes ravaged Stephan/Wessington Springs/ Delmont, people showed up to help clean up farmsteads and communities. Donations were sent to help families rebuild their households and lives. 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