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Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Agriculture is Timeless

My sister Sarah and I are proud farmer's daughters. 
In honor of National Ag Day and our father who passed away in 2009 from a farming accident, we wrote an article for our hometown newspaper and dedicated books to local schools in his honor.
Please enjoy and always remember to thank a farmer.


Time is such a precious commodity to each one of us, but in our busy, bustling lives we forget about the time and the precious moments it holds.  Time spent with each other in our rapidly changing lives has caused us to almost forget and remind you about this year’s National Ag Day which will be celebrated across the country on March 21.

Our article last year taught you about the women in agriculture and the critical role they play.  We have added one young lady to our farmer’s daughter trademark - Mae Louise, Katie’s daughter born last July.  She helps check the cows and reminds us to slow down and observe how precious life is and how quickly time goes by.  Sarah has spent the last several months preparing to become a farmer’s wife - another important title on the farm - and will gain the title this Saturday as we celebrate her marriage on our family farm.

Time almost got away from us with these new life changes, but we never missed a minute with regard to our decision to honor our dad, Tim Thomas, and dedicate our lives to agriculture advocacy and literacy.  This was our second year to donate agriculture books to all the elementary schools in the county so students have books about agriculture, farms, and food.  And this year we donated agriculture career resources for the middle schools, so those students know about the variety of food and agriculture related jobs.  We need these students to choose agriculture related  careers to help develop our future food supply.  They don’t have to be a farmer to be a part of agriculture.  Katie had a boss that would always comment on her Farm Bureau “No Farms, No Food” bumper sticker on her desk.  He would say “I eat so I’m a part of ag!” and he’s right!  We all are a part of the food chain and all a part of agriculture - that is a truth that time does and will not change.

While the time has passed when most children woke before dawn to do farm chores and arrive at school with manure on their boots and dirt under their fingernails, it doesn’t mean the time has passed for children to learn about where their food comes from and who produces it.  You too can encourage your children, family members and neighbors to use these resources at the schools in our county to educate themselves and become intrigued by an agriculture career.  

The way we plant, nourish, harvest, process, transport, deliver, prepare, distribute, buy, cook, and consume our food has changed over time.  However, the way it grows hasn’t changed.  The way the farmer cares for the food he grows for you and his dedication to his farm, fields, and family hasn’t changed.  Our passion for agriculture and efforts to educate you on behalf of our father will never change but only grow like the seeds he once planted on on our family farm and within us - that’s timeless.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Be Patient, Positive & Personal

I work in an office with a bunch of suits (you know what I mean), and I’ve come to embrace their questions and curiosity.  Sometimes I chuckle at their questions and sometimes I tilt my head with a questionable grin.  While I am sure my facial expressions may say differently, I have learned over the years to be patient and positive with my friends and colleagues as they try to learn and understand the world of agriculture.  Navigating through a conversation with someone about such a large topic that few of us live every day and all of us need every day is quite challenging.  

My sister and I have been talking for weeks about how we are going to honor our father for Ag Appreciation Month in March and brainstormed some great ideas that we have already put into action.  But yet I have struggled recently on how to tell my story without getting so overwhelmed with the amount of information I need to tell about life on the farm and how important agriculture is to us all.  Rattling off farm facts – how many people we feed and the stats on what and how we produce – don’t suffice for me anymore.  Those numbers disappear through the thin air and short attention spans of individuals living in the hustle and bustle of the 21st century and are disconnected from their food source.  

Instead of numbers, I use personal touches.  I tell the blue suit about the calves that were born that morning and how it affected our morning routine – and after a chaotic morning, one of them died.  I explain to the black suit about how the weather and various trade policies affect the corn, soybean and wheat markets every day and I hear about it every night.  I tell the gray suit about my experience in 4-H and how it helped me develop life lessons that I apply to my life today – hard work, be caring, the buying and selling and losing something you have worked hard for.  And then I grieve to my secretary that the gravel driveway full of rocks and mud from my farmer’s truck are ruining my high heels which have caused a horrendous hole and run in my tights before a big meeting.  

People remember the importance and understand the need for agriculture when they know that it affects someone on a personal level.  We don’t look each other enough in the eyes anymore because we are too busy comparing our lives to someone else’s online.  So when you are patient with someone when they ask you a question, positive in your tone and personal in your response while looking in their eyes – they remember and they appreciate.  

As I finish writing this I have gotten a text from a friend in Iowa asking how many calves we’ve had and then a colleague came in to chat about the recent pig farming story he heard on NPR.  Every moment of my life involves agriculture and so does yours – appreciate it. Your patience and positive attitude about your personal agriculture story will last longer than any agriculture appreciation month.