I remember as a freshman in high school, sitting in my agriculture classroom with five paragraphs laid out on paper in front of me. I was told to memorize it. Half the words rang true and deep to my 14-year-old self; the remaining words and phrases I wouldn’t fully comprehend until I was an adult. Those five paragraphs of the FFA Creed are a cornerstone of the true meaning of what it is to be in agriculture. They are words I, proudly, still have memorized to this day.
In today’s agriculture world, many are hurting financially due to depressed prices. Many hurt due to flooded lands with displaced livestock and buildings. We’re questioning the leadership at the national level in terms of the trade deal(s). And now, we are finally opening up about the mental angst farmers are facing in these tumultuous times. Add to it; social media. Social media makes the realities of today’s agricultural strife very real and raw.
This reality makes me think of the words in the second paragraph of the Creed, “I believe that to live and work on a good farm, or to be engaged in other agricultural pursuits, is pleasant as well as challenging. I know the joys and discomforts of agricultural life and hold an inborn fondness for those associations which, even in hours of discouragement, I cannot deny.”
These days the emphasis seems to be more on challenging, and not on pleasant. Yet, when I saw the camaraderie of farmers delivering hay a year ago to those who dealt with the wildfires and the convoys of hay headed into Nebraska just weeks ago, I weep. I weep with pride! I weep in thanks of the tenacity and inner strength of our farm community! I weep in thankfulness for this agricultural family that we have in the United States who stands together! A collection of men and women, youth and elderly, who still do share a common love: American agriculture.It is in these times when we band together when I hear echoes of the very first paragraph of the FFA Creed, “I believe in the future of agriculture, with a faith born not of words but of deeds – achievements won by the present and past generations of agriculturists; in the promise of better days through better ways, even as the better things we now enjoy have come to us from the struggles of former years.”
We are in the pit of despair in agriculture; a trade deal that feels like it will never get done. Incessant rain keeping you from planting your crops. Inputs that need to be paid with commodity prices that keep falling. It is in these pits of agriculture where we create innovations, better ways, and a stronger community.I remember the ’80s. I remember how farms struggled, interest rates were high, and commodity prices were low. I remember the ’90s. I worked in tobacco fields for six summers to save for college. I was thankful a neighboring farm had diversified with a cash crop, which gave me a job. And, then in the ’90s a price volatility occurred which affected many as the price of corn went from $2.00 to $5.00 in the course of a year (either selling too soon, or not buying soon enough).
The bad times make us tough as nails. Droughts happen. Floods happen. Agriculture policies and trade deals can make us pull our hair out. Bad times will be followed by good times. What we can do while we wait for the good times is exactly what the closing paragraph of the Creed suggests, “I believe that American agriculture can and will hold true to the best traditions of our national life and that I can exert an influence in my home and community which will stand solid for my part in that inspiring task.”Be that optimistic voice right now. Support your home and community. Exert a positive influence on agriculture. Better times are ahead.
If you have questions, you can reach Naomi at [email protected].