I have to say that this week has been extremely difficult to handle. I am so tired of hearing over and over again how neglected our agricultural bases are.
But then, another person sitting in the same room starts spouting off at the mouth that farmers are making a killing and should be rolling in the dough!
Nothing like sitting in a room full of people who have never stepped one foot onto a farm, had 100’s of animals to care for or had to deal with the nonsense of uneducated idiots. Farming isn’t as simple as some folks want to make it out to be. It isn’t a job that you can call in sick for, take vacations from without weeks or sometimes months of planning, and it is one of those jobs that requires constant research and development.
Some of the folks within my region keep telling me that Agriculture isn’t a “sexy” industry to enter! Wait, what?!?!?!
Let’s just take a look at all the things you need to know to operate a farm.
You need to be a:
Meteorologist – knowing your climate is very important for crops
Agronomist – in areas such as crop rotation, irrigation and drainage, plant breeding, plant physiology, soil classification, soil fertility, weed control, insect and pest control.
Chemist – chemical compositions of soils and forages
Veterinarian – for animal health and welfare
Geography – to understand the land, the soil and soil compositions, and water movements
Ecologist – to know and understand impacts of the environment and wildlife. This also includes pest management
Biologist – to understand what makes plants grow and how they grow, to understand the evolution of life
Geneticist – to understand breeding and reproductive qualities
Engineer – for waste management, flow through patterns of livestock, water irrigation
These don’t include anything to do with marketing, computers, operating equipment (some of which you almost need a degree to operate) or any mechanical abilities. It doesn’t include the bookkeeping, record keeping, feeding or any type of research and development.
So, why is the agricultural sector ignored?
I think many of us already within the industry can answer this question….It is a lot of hard work, dedication and all for a few cents on the dollar. It is a high risk industry to enter.
Oh, I can hear some of you already saying…”High risk. Not it isn’t!” Yes, it is!!!!
The markets are volatile. With feed prices taking a high pitch up, then a swing down low from one week to the next, you have to know how to play the market game. You have to know how to keep input costs down and then get devastated when milk or beef prices plummet.
Agriculture is dependent upon weather. Look at the droughts in the southern region. Or better yet, look at the season we had here….Flooding in the spring. Too much rain made it difficult to get fields planted with corn and too wet to harvest hay. The center portion of the summer saw us facing drought like conditions which stunted the growth of our corn and our second cutting hay. Then to top it all off…this fall was again bombarded by too much rain and more flooding.
Both issues are extremely high risk and neither one is even remotely something we have the opportunity to control.
So how do we get the younger generation to start picking up where our aging agriculture population is leaving off?
I sure don’t have the answers…..I do have a few suggestions but none worth really delving into right now. I would love to hear your opinions of the matter! So feel free to comment away and then we can bring this topic back up for another analytical discussion.