By: Hope Pjesky
Farmers are professionals. Farmers are small business owners. If you start your own farm, you are an entrepreneur. I am proud to be a farmer! Why aren’t more farmers?
Over the last twenty years I have been involved with a number of agricultural organizations. For the first ten or twelve of those years I was considered a “young” farmer by some of those organizations. Now, I am not “young” anymore but I am still obviously younger than the majority of the people who attend the meetings of those organizations. Because of this, I have had several older people come up to me over the years and say that we really need more young people to get into farming. The problem is that I know that several of the people who have said that to me have encouraged their children not to farm.
Their children were in 4-H and FFA and were the highest achieving students in their high schools. Many of them wanted to farm but their parents told them “No, you are too good to farm. You should go be a professional, a doctor, a lawyer or a politician.” If they didn’t want to farm then that is great but if they do want to farm they should not be told that they are too good to farm. Farmers do the jobs of five different professionals every day. We are professionals and we are small business owners. Producing the food and fiber necessary to feed and clothe the growing world population is the most important job that exists.
My husband and I both get interviewed by agriculture journalists from time to time. We have had several journalists comment to us that we are always so positive, we never complain. We have had plenty of reasons to complain over the last few years, we have been in a multi-year severe drought cycle. I have never seen the value in complaining in the news media. I answer questions honestly. If I am asked about the drought, I tell what the conditions currently are in my area but there is usually something that is slightly positive to add to the conversation. I never end an interview on a downer.
“Don’t tell people your problems. Half of them don’t care and the other half are glad that you have them.” My husband can’t remember who he originally heard say that but he has been saying it as long as I can remember. We both grew up on farms and we knew what we were getting into when we decided to be farmers. We knew there would be ups and downs. We are proud of what we do for a living. We are both educated and have skills that would enable us to succeed in other professions. We chose production agriculture as our profession.
It bothers me a great deal to hear other farmers discourage young people from choosing production agriculture as a profession and it bothers me to hear other farmers be negative and complain when they are interviewed in the media. How can we expect the general public to have a positive view of agriculture if those of us that are involved in agriculture are always negative?