Author Archives: Leanne Cope

A Taste of Summer

I have always felt that food was a very emotional subject. There are individuals who get excited when you talk about organic versus conventional, GMOs and water rights. Farmers and ranchers are very passionate and proud of what they do. They should be! Their hard work and sacrifice makes it possible for us to have clothes on our backs and food in our bellies.

A Taste of Summer - California Strawberries 2

Strawberries fresh from California to our ranch in Missouri

However, food is also emotional in a very different way. Close your eyes and think of your grandma’s house, backyard barbecues, family gatherings and holidays. Can you smell the hot rolls grandma made for Sunday dinner? Can you hear the sizzle and smell the smoke rolling off the grill as your best friend challenges you to a game of horseshoes? The sight of the Thanksgiving turkey as you sit down with your loved ones and give thanks for the blessings you have received?  Maybe some of your favorite memories were made as you gathered with your friends and family to enjoy a meal.

Today, I was lucky enough to get a taste of summer: strawberries, fresh off the vines in California. A harbinger of the days to come. Their smell, their taste, takes me straight to the sunny days of June.

A Taste of Summer - Making Hay

View from the tractor while making hay for the cattle during the summer

For me, summer brings days out of my classroom at the local high school and days in the hay fields raking and hauling hay. It means fresh fruits and vegetables out of the garden my husband and I plant together. Enjoying burgers off the grill or ice cream on the porch. I get to spend precious moments swinging in my hammock with my young daughter. My son will spend his days learning the ins and outs of the ranch with his dad and his nights on the baseball field.

Summer is a busy, action packed time of the year on our ranch. It only took one bite of these berries to put me right in the middle of it.


Get Involved!

All across the country, state Farm Bureaus are gearing up for or have just finished their annual meetings. In just a month, agriculturalists from every part of the United States will gather together in San Antonio for the American Farm Bureau Federation Annual Convention. Why is this important? Why should it affect you?

For too long we have been content to care for our herds and drive our tractors with little thought to local, state, and national policy and advocacy. To sound cliché, the squeaky wheel gets oiled and we have not been squeaky enough!

Young farmers from New York meet with their members of Congress.

People, speak! Be loud! Get involved! Be active!

I know you could really use those last few hours of daylight to get things done on the farm. I know that it’s really hard to take two days away to attend yet another meeting. Who’s going to take care of the herd? Make sure no one has come up to the house and stolen the four-wheeler? This is where you need to go out on the edge and leap. Ask your neighbors for a hand. Lock the tools up in the shed. Get involved!

Go to your local Farm Bureau meetings, to your annual state policy meetings. Book a flight and head to San Antonio and see what policy looks like on the national level. Farm Bureau is a grassroots organization. This means that you, the local family farmer, drive the policy and direction for the group as a whole!

Since my involvement in Farm Bureau, I have developed a strong belief that EVERYONE should make an effort to speak PERSONALLY with our elected officials. Yes, that is a lot of capital letters but I want to emphasize this. Personal contact and relationships with those who are in charge of writing and forming the policies that affect our industry are important. Putting a face to those who are affected by things like the Clean Water Act is invaluable. However, we still have jobs to do. We have food, fuel, and fiber to produce.

Thankfully the American Farm Bureau Federation and our state Farm Bureau organizations are there for us.

State delegates discuss policy changes during the AFBF Annual Convention.

“But wait!” you say.

“How will they know what we want? What we need?” you ask.

The answer to this: you get involved. You come in from the field a couple hours early for that meeting. You become an active participant in the policy formation in your state. You become a squeaky wheel, and say listen up! You let Farm Bureau know what is needed so that they can be a defender of our industry in Washington, D.C. and our state capitols.

Kids These Days

We’ve all heard it. We may even be guilty of saying it. “Kids these days have it easy.” “Kids these days don’t know how to work.” “When I was young I would have been outside playing, not playing video games or with my nose in a cell phone.” “Our country is going to be a mess when these kids are in charge.”

But maybe kids these days don’t have it so easy.

Our children’s generation has not known a time without conflict and terrorism. They ride to school in their parents’ cars with news stories of school shootings playing on the radio in the background. They don’t have the ability to leave the bullying at school because it follows them anywhere someone can access Twitter or Facebook. Every generation has its own adversities to overcome. We’ve all had different stresses, inventions and privileges that have played a role in developing us into the people we are today. Kids these days will be no different.

As a Biology teacher in our local high school, my days are spent with teenagers of all kinds. In fact, there are days that I see other people’s kids more than I see my own. Spending so much time with this younger generation, I feel like I have a unique view of “kids these days,” and there’s something I would like to share:

I am not worried about the future.

Kids these days are resilient. They think outside of the box. They can take an idea and run with it in directions you and I may have never thought about. They will be able to take today’s ever-changing technology and come up with new and innovative ways to integrate it seamlessly into our farms and ranches. They know how to work, and work hard. They are interested in finding the best, most efficient, and ecologically-friendly ways to accomplish what needs to be done.

Kids these days are on their way to greatness, but they’re not there yet.

It is our job as (I hate to say it) the older generation to help our children transition into their future. We are responsible for teaching them how to be honest and fair in business, how to be a voice for agriculture, how to be stewards of the land. When issues come up in our local, state and national governments, we need to show them what it means to step up and protect our way of life and their future. With a better awareness and understanding of the issues and policies put in place today, we can transition into a better future for our kids, for when it’s their turn to take the combines around the fields and enjoy dinner on the tailgate with their own children. For when the kids these days have kids of their own.