Saturday, March 21, 2009

"I Believe In the Future of Farming..."

"I believe in the future of farming..." Those were the first words of the FFA Creed when it was still the Future Farmers of America, and I wonder how many times I recited them in high school. There were countless moments over the ensuing years during which we farmed for a living (depending on it for our sole income), times when I was waist-deep in mud, trying to save a flooded potato crop, tired out of my mind during planting or harvest, or worried sick about finances and the future, that those words became a bit of a mantra.

We no longer depend on the land as our sole source of income and have not for many years now, yet we choose to farm on a small scale because it is what we love. We enjoy growing our own food and caring for the animals and living this lifestyle.

I often marvel at the fact that over the course of one or two generations, our country as a whole has become so far removed from the farm that many kids don't even know where meat or milk or bread comes from. Our lives are so sanitized and commercialized and conformist... and I, for one, rebel against it.

That would be one of the many reasons why we live in the country, raise animals and plant a garden. I want my daughters to understand the sanctity of life, whether it be equine, avian or human. I want them to be self-sufficient, confident, faithful and tenacious, all qualities required of those who plant seeds in the ground in the hopes of a harvest, or breed an animal with the expectation of improving upon both sire and dam. I want them to know thier roots in the land, to understand how hard their ancestors worked just to feed and clothe and shelter themselves.

It disturbs me somewhat that the wording of the FFA Creed has been changed from "I believe in the future of farming..." to "I believe in the future of agriculture...". Those words do not possess the same power or meaning. The farmer is the very root of the agriculture industry... without the farmer, there is no agriculture.

The ag industry is considered to be the largest in the world, and in its broadest definition, includes pretty much everyone in the food, fiber, biofuel, and chemical industries... even tourism is sometimes lumped into the group (there is a growing sector called "agri-tourism"; people actually pay money to experience the country life and work on a farm). But in any one of those sectors, if you trace the supply to its source, you find yourself back on the farm.

I've always been suspicious that the FFA creed was changed for two reasons... one, that it was an attempt to make it (and the FFA) more inclusive (how sad); and two, the term "farmer" was just not considered "cool". And it's too bad, really. Frankly, I consider those who bust their butts to feed and clothe and fuel the entire population of this planet, to be very cool indeed.

I believe in the future of farming.

No comments: