This week’s word is dedicated to the American farmer.
According to Webster, a farmer has two definitions. The definition that most are familiar with is a person who cultivates land or crops or raises animals.
The American farmer is usually at the center of many national debates going on in Washington and across the country. Anymore, people want to know where their food comes from and if their farmer is using safe production practices. This makes things a lot trickier for the farmer. Not only does he have to worry about getting his work done on the farm, he has to work as a spokesperson for what he produces.
I grew up on a farm and know several farmers who are great at what they do. They have a passion for what they grow and understand so many things I can barely wrap my head around. They appreciate the smaller things in life (because even just an inch of rain here or there could make a difference in how corn or beans grow).
Since the American farmer is so near and dear to my heart (hopefully yours, too) and play such an important role in agriculture, I found it appropriate to define this word.
This week I asked again on my Facebook and Twitter how people define a farmer. Here are some responses I received.
“Necessary, fighting hunger in the word, no vacation days…”
“Sacrificing, strong-willed, tough, passionate and being a gambler with the land because there is no set salary.”
“Someone who works their tail end off to provide a nutritious food for people they don’t even know.”
“To a farmer, farming is more than an occupation. Looking out your window to see your best corn crop in decades is more than an accomplishment. Doing everything possible to keep a wet calf in February alive isn’t all about making a penny. Many farmers find it their duty to raise a family with the gifts and blessings God has given us (people in the city have no idea what they’re missing). Scrutinized day in and day out by so many, it doesn’t matter what 99% of farmers are told; ‘farming’ to them is much more than the sweat, tears and blood shed, or the smiles, dollars, and pride they carry with them each and every day. It’s a lifestyle. They stick to it. They live with it. And a farmer will do everything within their power to die with it. I can think of few things that can combat the qualities most farmers possess.”
“Farmers Raise Animals, Grow Crops and Harvest Natural Resources. They are the world’s most underpaid, overworked CEO without the option to give themselves a bonus or set the price for their product.”
“Stewards of the land who choose a lifestyle not just an occupation.”
“Individuals who love the land, work long hours, enjoy being outdoors, intelligent, stewards of the best resource on our planet, determined, overworked, rarely have recreational opportunities, deal with numerous things beyond their control and have to deal with all the government regulations placed upon them. Many raise livestock too.”
“Caretaker of the land, Provider for the Hungry”
“A farmer- the one who works hard to make sure that we eat!”
“You have to be a little goofy to be a farmer. You must love to work long hours doing hard work and then stand back and watch mother nature do her thing. Farmers don’t have to go to the boat to gamble they just have to go to the field.”
“The American Farmer is the only person in the world that can not set the price of the product he sells. He has to take whatever the market is willing to pay at the time. Example: When you go to the Dr. he tells you how much you will pay him, the grocery store prices their goods and you pay the price or do without. The list goes on and on for everyone except America’s farmer.”
“Farmers provide food and fiber to meet the world’s needs.”
For most of these people, a farmer is much more than the Webster’s definition.
Do you know a local farmer and what he does? As I have mentioned above, it is so important to feel close to the people who grow the food we eat. That way, we have more confidence that food is grown safely and with a lot of care.
Here’s a farmer I had the privilege of meeting with last year for a radio story. This farmer lives around Mid-Missouri and in this picture he is checking the wheat to make sure everything is going ok in the field.
If you don’t know of a farmer and live in a smaller town, I encourage you to go out and sit at the local coffee shop and start talking to them. For larger metropolitan, you can utilize extension programs in your area to put you in contact with a farmer.
Most farmers are more than happy to talk to you about where your food comes from and show you how they grow a steer or this year’s corn crop. All you have to do is ask. You’ll probably learn more than I could tell you.
So when you think of all of these things and what makes up the American farmer-how would YOU define him/her?