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The perfect life

Darren Olsen Published on 11 November 2009

I recently spent a week back in Madison, Wisconsin attending World Dairy Expo. I really enjoy getting out and hearing what forage producers have to say.

Although the primary focus of the show is dairy, thousands of attendees also grow their own forages, so it is an ideal place for our publications to take part.

Discussions with producers ranged from the latest technologies and equipment to quality and forage preservation. Rarely did the discussion point to the current lackluster prices for lower-quality hay.

Nearly every visit was about the future and the anticipation for more opportunities to come. While I can’t say growers aren’t worried about what is coming down the road, I can state it isn’t their primary focus.

It is one of the things I like about producers – they just keep looking forward. As I spend time with many different groups of professionals, the question comes up time and again, “Why would anyone want to go into agriculture?”

It has been my pleasure on many occasions to explain what it is that makes production agriculture great. Yet, even after explaining, they are not able to relate to the drive, the passion and the heart of why someone would get involved with this industry.

The answers are always the same and are offered here as a starting point for anyone needing some talking points for everyone on the ‘other side of the fence’.

• Growers are optimists.
When the single greatest factor you deal with, the weather, is something you have absolutely no control over, you have to be an optimist. Without a healthy outlook, you will quickly become cynical or withdrawn, neither of which will allow anyone to last long in this industry. Faith and hope lead producers into each season, creating a framework they build on the entire year.

• Growers are self-reliant.
When it comes to making life work, producers look to themselves first. They don’t need a committee to tell them what to do, what to grow or how to get the job done. They continually work towards bettering their condition, but don’t spend time worrying about what they don’t have. They make do or learn to do without.

Growers are hard workers.
Here is a trait that is lost to a growing population and one that undoubtedly is the hardest for people to comprehend. In a world that is drawn to ease, speed and ‘what’s in it for me’ first, the idea of working to get something done is lost in an ever-increasing blob of mediocrity.

While there are many who do work hard in life to accomplish great things, it is a trait that accompanies every person I have ever met in this industry.

• Growers look forward with experience.
Few industries provide lasting lessons of experience like production agriculture. Each year brings with it unique opportunities and challenges and it is very much what gives producers the foundation they need to move ahead.

Rarely does a person in agriculture set his sights on the next season without looking back at both successes and failures, using them as a gauge for what can be accomplished.

• Growers are grateful.
Because of the challenges associated with producing quality crops each year, growers learn to appreciate the good things in their lives. Not every season brings bounty and quality with each harvest.

Some years are just bad. But it is these times that create an attitude of appreciation for when it is good. Most people have been in panic mode over the recent economic challenges they have faced. Producers have taken it in stride. There have been up-and-down years before and they will come again.

If these points still don’t give individuals any insight into the life of producers, I leave this last equation I recently came across as a simple way to better understand the people who make agriculture part of their life:

The present + an attitude of gratitude + positive action = the perfect life.  FG

Darren Olsen
FG Editor