Passion has many definitions in the dictionary, most of which address emotion or strong feelings of desire. Another meaning is an intense driving or overmastering feeling or conviction.
Since coming to Ozarks Farm & Neighbor, I’ve had the privilege to meet countless people who share a passion for agriculture and farming. Some are new to farming and/or livestock production, while others have been immersed in agriculture their whole lives. No matter how they came to be involved in agriculture, it is their passion.
On a farm visit a while back, a first-generation livestock producer shared a conversation he had with another new farmer. The men were discussing how farming was much harder, mentally and physically, then they ever imagined, and how they weren’t going to get rich from it. One of the men then asked the other what he would do with the money if he won a big lottery and never had to work again. “I guess I’d buy a bigger farm,” the man responded. Agriculture had become their passion.
Many of us might have a similar response if asked that same question. Lottery winnings, for me, would mean more land, a nice group of cattle (really not sure which breed or cross yet because I like the attributes of so many, and I just can’t totally rule out a Jersey herd), and new fences, barns and equipment all around. Months-long trips around the world and jet setting off to tropical locations just doesn’t appeal to me. I’ve been to Jamaica, which was nice, but wasn’t everything I expected. After all, I’ve been to the American Royal (where me and two other girls won a collegiate hay hauling competition way back in 1989, the National Western Stock Show and the North American International Livestock Expo, so the Caribbean island was up against some pretty tough competition. I guess you could say agriculture is my passion.
Farmers share a passion and goal, but they might do things a little differently than their neighbor. An organic or non-GMO producer is passionate about getting a high-quality product to their customers without the use of certain medications, chemicals or feeds. A conventional producer is also passionate about producing a high-quality product, but uses a herbicide or pesticide and offer grain to their livestock. Both producers have the same goal, just a different approach.
It’s unfortunate, but I see more and more debate among those involved in production agriculture about which is “the best” practice. It’s kind of like fighting over which is the best tractor; is there really a viable reason to argue? If you’re happy with one color and how it works for you and your operation, and your neighbor has a different colored tractor and it works well for their operation, is there really a reason to disagree?
We have enough negativity revolving around agriculture, so bickering within the industry only damages agriculture, as a whole. As farmers and ranchers we should not consider each other competitors, but allies. The only enemies we should have are those who are trying to destroy agriculture.
The differences between us, many times, come down to a passion for what we do and for what we believe in. We all want what’s best for our farms, livestock, crops and families, so are our passions really that different?