altWelcome to 2019!

Looking back at 2018, I can’t help but think of all the highs and lows of the year.

Among the highlights for me in 2018 were seeing my family grow, having yet another year on this earth, and another year of telling the stories of farmers and ranchers from right here in the Ozarks.

In 2018, my Grandma Turner passed away, as did a couple of friends, so I count those as the lows.

Farmers and ranchers must ride the highs and endure the lows, and I am sure most folks feel like they have been on one of the meanest, hardest-bucking broncs in the rodeo after last year, and that awnry nag reached back and bit you right in the leg just to add a little insult to injury.

Droughts, floods, changing state and federal regulations, trade deals, rising production costs, low prices for cattle and crops, rising interest rates and everything in between can weigh heavily on a person who already feels the weight of the world on their shoulders. To top it all off, it’s winter and that seems to amplify everyone’s worries. There’s good news, however.

Production costs are expected to flatten out a little in 2019, according to economic experts, and we’ll see an upswing in the number of acres planted in corn and spring wheat. Livestock production is expected to remain strong, including beef and pork production; with strong export markets expected to continue in 2019 for both. Dairy markets are also expected to improve slightly this year. While the 5 percent gain won’t offset the monstrous losses in dairy, something is better than nothing. My dairy friends, I’m confident, would like any relief they can get.

When things seem to be a little tough, the phrase, “and God made a farmer” comes to mind.

“And on the 8th day, God looked down on his planned paradise and said, ‘I need a caretaker.’ So God made a farmer,” Paul Harvey first said at the 1978 National FFA Convention, way back when FFA still stood for Future Farmers of America.

As I read the words of Harvey’s iconic speech, which will still bring a tear to many rough and tough men’s eyes, I see people I know, both men and women, in each line; people who were proud of what they did and who were determined to continue. I’m sure many of you can do the same.

We’re tasked to do the jobs only a few people can or want to do. As we move into 2019, remember we’re like the Marines; the few, the proud and an elite force on the front lines each and every day.

Our tanks, however, are trucks, tractors and combines. Cracked and weathered hands and the knowledge and determination passed down by generations of the past are our weapons.

We’re also a little like the Army, doing more before 9 a.m. than most people do all day, and it’s the hardest job you’ll ever love.

Julie Turner-Crawford is a native of Dallas County, Mo., where she grew up on her family’s farm. She is a graduate of Missouri State University. To contact Julie, call 1-866-532-1960 or by email at [email protected]

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