“The farmer has to be an optimist or he wouldn’t still be a farmer.”
Famed Hollywood actor Will Rodgers made this statement in the early 1900s and it still rings true today. As our farmers head back into the fields preparing for the 2020 planting season, it is important to remember the words of this quote.
In 2019, Mississippi farmers suffered what many would deem to be one of the toughest years in recent memory, with unrelenting winter and spring rains, the longest Mississippi River flood in history, trade wars and low commodity prices. As farmers, we know we live every day of every year at the mercy of Mother Nature. Will she give us the rain we so desperately need? Will she give us the rain when we need it in the right amounts? Will she spare us from droughts, ice, hurricanes and tornados? Only the Lord knows the answers to those questions, and I would bet even he is surprised at some of the things Mother Nature throws our way at times.
Natural disasters, although not always expected, are the price of admission we know we must pay as farmers. Man-made disasters, on the other hand, are what cause frustration among the farming community. Add federal regulations that hamper a farmer’s ability to produce at their highest output, market restrictions and trade wars that limit our market potential and drive down prices, and agency mandates and decisions that create the man-made disasters and it is easy to see why the farmer has been so discouraged.
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Nevertheless, the farmer continues to wake up each morning to go to work feeding, clothing and sheltering the world. But even the most optimistic farmers see the glass half empty at times and need someone to pick them up and give them reasons to remain upbeat. Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation (MFBF) strives every day to give its members reason to look forward to better days.
It is MFBF’s mission to help mitigate some of the man-made issues to help protect the farmer so they can do what they do better than anyone else does in the world: produce food and fiber. With MFBF standing in the gate, the farmer has something to be optimistic about going forward. They know groups of like-minded individuals are standing up for their interests. MFBF gives the farmer a platform where their concerns are delivered and heard by the proper authorities. As a grassroots organization, MFBF is required to be the voice of agriculture that helps keep the farmer optimistic each day. A farmer can leave the house with a smile on his face even on the darkest days when he knows someone has his back and is fighting for his interests on the farm.
This spring, as you travel the roads of Mississippi and shake the winter doldrums, remember the farmer. While you stay warm inside, they are outside weathering the storm to feed their cows, prepare the ground for spring planting, service chicken houses, maintain equipment, and raise their children to respect a hard day’s work and look for the brighter aspects in life.
No matter the struggles a farmer faces, they will always work hard and put in a full day. They will expect next year’s crop to be better, the weather to be more manageable and the markets more predictable. They hope next year’s calves will be fatter, chickens grow out quicker, cotton will be taller, and grain crops will bust the bins.
About the author: Kevin H. Brown is the Regional Manager for Region 5 at the Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation.