Sunday, April 10, 2016

A Farmer's Hats

     Hats, hats, hats. Lots of hats. That is what I have collected a lot of over the years when I have gone to trade shows, grower meetings, or the salesman has dropped off. Like any other farmer, I tend to collect plenty of hats and never seem to run short. A couple months ago I went through my closet cleaning out hats I had never worn and probably would never wear. Yet, I still seem to have plenty of hats. I almost feel like a hat collector and I think my closet feels the same!

     After cleaning out the hats I didn't want and putting away the ones I wanted to keep, it reminded me of the different kinds of "hats" a farmer wears everyday that are non-visible. These hats aren't made out of cotton or mesh but rather formed out of learning, knowledge, and wisdom. These hats are much more valuable than the hats any farmer could ever buy. These hats reflect the different titles a farmer holds, such as accountant, marketer, agronomist, manager, laborer, and so on. 

     A farmer is a unique individual. The role a farmer has one minute can change to a different role the next minute. One minute a farmer might be doing book work and in the next minute he is heading out to the field to put the next year's crop in the ground. Unfortunately, there are some people out there that think farming is easy and that farmers have it easy. However, what most people don't know is that the role of the farmer becomes more complicated each year. Commodity markets are volatile and seem to become more volatile each year due to weather impacts, foreign competition, economic issues, and so on. This requires more monitoring of the markets as well as studying what is happening in the markets. On top of that there is book work to be done, and as farms grow, so does the amount of book work that has to be done. Not only is there book work that has to be done, but there is also paper work and meetings that a farmer must attend to learn and stay in accordance with local, state and federal regulations. We can't forget that there is also the actual physical work that has to be done on the farm. This can go from running a piece of machinery to fixing something that is broke down. Many farmers now days find themselves taking on the educator role. Farmers are having to spend more time telling their story about how they raise a safe and affordable product for consumers. 

     Even though the role of the farmer might seem to be more complex in today's farming world, there are many things that have come along to help make the farmers job a little bit less strenuous and safer. Thanks to technology, farmers are able to be more mobile with the work they do both in the office and out in the field. Now farmers can carry their farm's information on a computer, tablet, or their phone and not have to worry about being in the office but instead can work away from the office from time to time. Farmers can do a better job with their marketing of commodities thanks to smart phones that allows farmers to get up-to-date information on the markets. GPS helps prevent fatigue for farmers and lets them work longer hours as well as work in situations where visibility can be an issue. Today's technology definitely benefits farmers and helps farmers work safer as well as be more efficient in everything they do from putting seed in the ground to keeping good records in the office.  

     It is a safe to say that a farmer's "hat" changes every minute. As far as I know, there isn't a farmer that wears just one type of "hat". For most farmers, that is why they enjoy the career in farming. The roles a farmer plays in his or her family farm changes every minute and every day. Some roles are newer than the roles previous generations may have had. I will bet that in the years ahead, farmers will take on new roles that they may have thought they would never have when running their family farm. No matter what the role is that the farmer holds today or tomorrow, one thing remains the same and that is their passion for their job. For me, no matter how bad or good the day may be in farming, I always look forward to the next day and challenge I may face. Farming is not easy but it is a good life that can give great rewards with hard work, dedication, and having a willingness to learn. So next time you meet a farmer wearing a hat, remember that they are already wearing more than just the one hat on their head!

     As planting season begins to start rolling for many family farms across the nation, I want to wish everyone a safe planting season and that everyone may have a blessed growing season! 

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