I am not a public person in terms of sharing a lot on social media. I think I’m boring and that no one wants to read my oversharing. Yes, I know, ….then why are you writing a blog?… I’m wondering the same thing as I look for the words. Bottom line – the agricultural industry is being unfairly attacked and bullied on a daily basis. For every ridiculous and inaccurate post I see on social media on a daily basis, I feel this is the least I can do to provide a little truth and education to those who want to learn. We have to find a way to bridge the gap.
My husband Ben and I both grew up in farming and ranching families. We both went to college for agricultural degrees. I’m ashamed to admit that despite being at one of the top agricultural universities in the country, I only did what I had to do in order to get by with good grades to graduate. “I am NOT going into farming, this doesn’t apply to me…” There were so many programs available to attend on “agriculture advocacy” and the struggles the ag industry would face in the years to come. Looking back 10+ years ago at what they said back then, they were so right.
Ben and I had the typical college grad mindset – move to the city and get a nice salaried job with benefits — trust me when I say that a consistent paycheck and company provided benefits are not exactly on the table when you opt to go into farming or ranching as a career. We both lived in the city – cul-de-sac house in a subdivision, drove company cars, had sales jobs with consistent salaries – life was good. Life was straightforward with little ambiguity in terms of our future and financial stability. But as time went on, we knew something was missing. On a whim we sold our home and moved back to my little rural home town south of Houston. We tried commuting into the city to continue our sales jobs but eventually gave those up as well, because we knew the final missing piece of our puzzle was feeling truly fulfilled for a living. We knew we needed to get back to our roots and start farming and ranching again.
One does not simply start working in agriculture in the same way that you can just suddenly get hired and start a new job the following Monday. The amount of risk and overhead capital that is required to get into farming and/or ranching as a full time profession is tremendous. Farmers and ranchers gamble every single year with the hope that their crops and calves and whatever else they are raising will thrive. Then in turn they hope and pray they can beat out mother nature and the economy to barely squeak by with the just exact right timing to actually produce a quality product for the year and be able to sell it at a time that the markets are up enough for them to actually profit over all the money, long hours, blood, sweat, tears, and precious time away from their families and children just to have something to hope to sell for the year to make a profit and enough of a living to just support their families. They may go months at a time living off money they made on last years sales not knowing what the future holds. THIS is largely why I become very offended when I see social media posts attacking those in agriculture. The internet has unfortunately made so many people into keyboard warriors who are quick to attack without knowing all the facts, or sometimes any facts at all.
When it’s cold, raining, snowing, miserable…when it’s a holiday like Christmas or a family member’s birthday… the rancher still puts the livestock first. Their health and well being are of the utmost importance. Meanwhile the rancher is being attacked online for using antibiotics to keep that baby calf alive.
When it has been dark for 4 hours and dinner is ice cold, the farmer still has to keep running his equipment to beat the rain that’s coming to get his crops planted or harvested, even if it means this will be the 7th day in a row that he hasn’t been able to tuck his kids into bed. Dinner is usually eaten sitting on the back of the truck in the dark with dirty hands while the kids play, because that’s the only way the family will spend any time together. Meanwhile he’s being attacked online for growing a GMO corn, when in reality the average person doesn’t even know what that actually is.
If I seem a little bitter about the topic, it’s because I am. I know the huge risk we personally took to leave salaried jobs and take on tremendous overhead capital responsibility in order to go back into agriculture. We’ve had the opportunity to meet many young farming and ranching families just like us who have done the same. We are the first generation in production agriculture who also fully understand and utilize social media. I truly believe it is our job to share about our lives and to educate. We’re not trying to kill you with antibiotics and genetically modified frankenfoods. I hope to use this as a way to directly answer your questions and to share about our lives and other families just like us.
What do you want to learn about? What can I share with you? Please feel free to ask me any questions you have or things you don’t fully understand. I am by no means an expert in all things agriculture, but what I don’t know I promise to get the expert answer and to share with you however I can.