Author Archives: AFBF Staff

Agriculture’s Self-Esteem Problem

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?

Farm Bureau, Hundreds of Other Groups Call for Extension of Key Tax Provisions

America’s farmers and ranchers are ready for Congress to act swiftly to restore tax provisions essential to boosting small businesses and rural economies, according to the American Farm Bureau Federation.

In a letter to House and Senate leaders, Farm Bureau urged members of both chambers to work across the aisle to renew and preserve important tax provisions that expired at the end of 2013.

“Farmers and ranchers rely on tax provisions that allow them to manage their cash flow and put that money back to work for their businesses,” said AFBF President Bob Stallman. “Section 179 and bonus depreciation are important tools that lend stability and help minimize risk in an unpredictable industry.”

Agriculture is overwhelmingly united in its support of Section 179 and bonus depreciation, which provide flexible means for farm and ranch businesses to write off and deduct business expenses.

Read more …

Water, Rest, Shade

Water, rest, shade. Three simple, yet important, words that headline the Occupational Safety & Health Administration’s heat stress awareness campaign.

Hot weather means the human body must work harder to keep cool, especially in high humidity. Outdoor workers are the most susceptible to heat illness, which can “range from heat rash and heat cramps to heat exhaustion and heat stroke,” according to OSHA. In the most extreme cases, heat stroke can lead to death.

It is important for outdoor workers to build up a tolerance for working in these conditions. Those who are new to outdoor summer labor or those who are return from a vacation that has kept them out of the heat should gradually increase their workload until they are acclimated to the temperature and humidity.

Summer sun and humidity increase the risk of heat illness for outdoor workers. OSHA recommends drinking water every 15 minutes, even if you aren’t thirsty. Photo credit: Liz Foster, Arizona Farm Bureau

Summer sun and humidity increase the risk of heat illness for outdoor workers. OSHA recommends drinking water every 15 minutes, even if you aren’t thirsty. Photo credit: Liz Foster, Arizona Farm Bureau

There are many ways for farmers and ranchers to beat the heat this summer. OSHA suggests the following:

  • Drink water every 15 minutes, even if you are not thirsty.
  • Rest in the shade to cool down.
  • Wear a hat and light-colored clothing.
  • Learn the signs of heat illness and what to do in an emergency.
  • Keep an eye on fellow workers.
  • “Easy does it” on your first days of work in the heat. You need to get used to it.

Employers of outdoor workers are also encouraged to establish a heat illness prevention program, which includes adding rest breaks into the work day and training workers to look for signs of heat illness.

Special thanks for the Arizona Farm Bureau for recommending this important health and safety tip. For more information on OSHA’s recommendation for heat exposure, visit