The colors of autumn are beginning to show as I look across the landscape here in the middle of America. High school football games and FFA contests are regular events. The air smells different with corn and soybean harvest underway. A sweatshirt is needed for early morning chores.
Like many of you, I was in Decatur in central Illinois last month for the 2021 Farm Progress Show, where hundreds of ag companies, associations and agencies displayed their wares and shared their stories. There was something there for everyone and everyone I talked to was sure glad to be at an in-person event with other farmers.
We do not all have to use the same color or horsepower of tractor. We don’t have to plant the same brand of seed with the same traits, use the same crop inputs or apply the same amount of NPK and micronutrients to our soils.
As a matter of fact, we’re a whole lot more productive farmers and ranchers if we pay attention to our own land and livestock and use the right tools and inputs for what we have instead of worrying so much about what our neighbors are doing.
We learn a lot from watching others and talking about why each of us does what we do the way we do it, but every farm and every herd is different. I think we all need to do a better job of respecting and appreciating not only that which makes us same, but also that which makes us different.
Whether using red, green, blue, or orange equipment, there are more likenesses than differences. Whether you “identify” as a Democrat or Republican, Libertarian, or Independent, whether implementing organic or conventional management, I believe there is a sameness at the core of every farmer.
I have traveled with farmers from the United States to visit their brethren on farms in Argentina, Brazil, South Africa, China, Australia and other countries. The crop, equipment, breed or species of livestock and management style made no difference to the visitors or the visited. The kinship of those whose passion lies in growing things is silent and powerful and draws people together like metal to magnet.
Why then do we continue to fight amongst ourselves when we should be working together? Agriculture becomes more divided when those involved in organizations representing various crops or species of livestock begin fighting among themselves.
I believe accountability is a must. I certainly don’t agree with anyone on everything, but we need to spend a little more time learning how we can work together.
Talk a little less and listen a little more. You’ll often find that you ultimately want many of the same things, even if you have differing opinions on just exactly how you’re going to get there.