Yesterday I was introduced to a new band called The Departed. An aggie social media friend of mine and someone in the blogging world who I look up to, Dairy Carrie, sent out a message on Facebook sharing this song and it’s tagline, “Worth the Fight”.
She posed the question to us… Agriculture, is it worth the fight? And to that question I answer, without a doubt. To me personally, it’s worth every ounce of energy we put into it. My passion for agriculture runs strong thanks to both my past and now my future..
I was born into the meat industry, growing up in a playpen in the deli of our butcher shop, I always thought everyone ate meat. And that raising animals and killing animals for meat was “normal”. Normal to me was going out on our mobile slaughter truck with my dad and watching him work, family vacations were meat conventions, and I made forts out of meat boxes while playing with my brother at the shop.
Well, I got a little older and soon figured out that the meat industry quite frankly got beat up quite a bit. And I will admit, for a long time I was embarrassed of the fact that my dad was a butcher for a living.. I mean, it’s not exactly the most glamorous life out there. Many of my Sundays growing up were spent at the butcher shop, cutting and wrapping meat with my dad, my mom, and my brother. Because well, you just can’t walk away from a cooler full of meat. 9 to 5 and weekends off doesn’t apply. I started a blog for the meat shop just over one year ago. It wasn’t until I started writing about meat, sharing with people via social media about all things meat that I realized my passion and appreciation for what I’d grown up doing.
I realized that what my grandfather started and what is my dad’s livelihood is something to be proud of. And frankly, without the meat industry, if for some reason, the industry simply gave up. My parents would be out of work. What else would they do? I mean meat has been my Dad’s passion and his life for almost 50 years. It’s what he loves to do. And so to him, it’s worth the fight. And he’s passed that onto me. Without the fight we have to fight daily against animal rights activist groups like HSUS not only would my family be out of work but our business of 45 years would be shut down, our friends all across the nation who share our passion for the meat industry and their families would also be out of work. A whole sector of our food system would be broken and good people would be put out of work, sometimes careers they’ve spent their lives building so that their children and their children’s children will be able to continue their livelihood all out of work. And what would those people do?
So fast forward a few months, I met a farmer from North Dakota. I’d never been to North Dakota and I’d never really witnessed the ins and outs of farming firsthand. It took me falling head over heels in love with a farmer and moving all the way to North Dakota to really appreciate what exactly it is that farmers do. I mean, I grew up in one of the most agriculture driven counties in California. Without farming in our county, we would struggle. I knew many farmers, most of them were our customers, but I had never been thrown into the life of a farmer. Well, the small bit that I have been exposed… It leaves me in awe. I think a lot of times the life of a farmer is glamorized especially now as we move towards local and slow food moments. People are wanting to put a face with people growing their food. And that’s a good thing. But people tend to forget that the life of a farmer is not an easy one. It takes a special kind of person, it’s like there is something special in the make-up of a farmer.
Farmers risk it all every time they put those seeds in the ground. They put their livelihood into the hands of Mother Nature each and every year. The truth about farming is this… a farmer can do everything right. And yet their crops can still fail. We’ve seen this year nationwide how the drought has affected farmers. We have many, many things to thank for easing the blow that farmers as well as consumers would have taken due to the drought. Not only do farmers put it all on the line, but much like with the meat industry, farmers have no 9 to 5. Just like they rely on Mother Nature to help their crops grow and flourish, they also rely on Mother Nature when it comes to their work schedule. Crops don’t wait when they are ready to be harvest, once they are ready, it means that farmers must work until the crops are ALL harvested. Same goes with planting, spraying, etc. When they are harvesting or planting, farmers don’t take weekends off. They work because they have to because Mother Nature isn’t going to wait for them. So while the rest of us out there work 9 to 5 and spend our weekends with our families, farmers are out in their tractors, in their sprayers, or in their combines working to provide our food system with what it needs to survive.
They are risking it all. Farmers are some of the best gamblers I know, but I’m not talking Vegas here. I am talking about gambling with Mother Nature here. For example, we begun soybean harvest at Rohrich Farms this week. We were in kind of a catch-22. The majority of the soybeans are ready but some fields are still a little green. Well, if we wait for the soybeans to be completely ready, we put our yields in Mother Nature’s hands because if say, a strong wind were to come up, it could knock a whole bunch of dry soybean seeds out of their pods. So do we take a gamble on Mother Nature or do we simply go ahead and harvest? These are the kinds of decisions farmers are making daily. There is no right or wrong answer, there is no manual to tell them how to do it. They have to take what they know and run with it, they have to have faith and trust, they have to try new things, new technologies, and sometimes they have to take a gamble. Not everyone is made up to be a farmer, but the ones that are don’t do it for the profits, they do it because they love it. It’s their passion. I see it every time I step into that field with MY farmer, everytime I go out to the farm and he’s working alongside his father and brother well into the night. I see it firsthand and with my own eyes. And I share what I see. Why?
SO IS IT WORTH THE FIGHT…?
Absolutely, without a doubt. It’s worth every ounce of energy put into it. I take the time out of my busy schedule, a few moments out of my day to share with you all what I know, what I experience, and what I see firsthand not for profit, not for pageviews, not for some other motive other than the simple fact that these are the true passions of some of the people I love most in life. And if my voice can reach and influence a larger audience, well then I’ve done my part to fight for those I love. Because without the passions of those that I love, what else would they be doing? Our food system would be broken. And although my dad may sell beef from cattle that come from feed yards and my farmer may grow GMO crops, people would call both of them all kinds of awful things. But you know what, they are still people, they are experts in what they do, they have a passion and their passion is what drives them to do those things. People are calling for more emotion associated with our food system… Well, there it is folks.. If what I’ve laid out here doesn’t show emotion or passion than I don’t know what does. And so I will continue fighting the good fight… For those I love, for those out there who work hard because what they do is their passion, and so that I can eat quality, safe food three times a day.
Thanks to people like my dad and thanks to people like my farmer. Know that this girl appreciates what you do.. More than words. And that she will always be in your corner.