Family farms are the perfect example of roots. Many of us may have memories of riding in the tractor with grandpa or going out to feed the cows with dad. Those memories create roots, and we grow from our roots. Establishing a positive beginning is key to a positive experience. Without family farming, we essentially wouldn’t have anything. People who work in most ag fields today got their taste of agriculture through family farms.
I have been fortunate to live and work on my family farm. I have many memories of riding in the combine with my mom and dad, sitting on my moms lap watching the ears of corn drop off the stalks and into the corn head. I like to associate my experience with 4-H. I developed my love for livestock- particularly cattle- because showing something at the county fair was a family activity! Though it seems like a lot more work than it’s worth, I believe farming is the most rewarding career there is. You work hard all the time, many times while others are still sleeping. You put 110% of your effort into something that may not workout. If it doesn’t then you look at the situation, problem solve, and try it again. Family farming is about passion, hard work, and dedication.
The average American is three generations removed from production on a family farm. Family farms and ranches make up less than 2% of the American population, and that number is plunging by the decade. So what can we do to stop the plunge and start the climb? We need to communicate agriculture. Communicating is what can save the family farm from here.
A large role in our family farm is our association with cooperatives. Four generations of my family have been members of a cooperative system. My great grandfather was better able to market the milk and eggs produced on his farm because he was a member of a cooperative. My grandfather used the purchasing power of cooperatives to buy crop inputs and feedstuffs for his growing farm, at a competitive price. My parents and I continue to use this purchasing power for crop inputs. Additionally, our grain production is marketed through the Central Valley Ag or CVA cooperative. The grain marketing goes beyond simply calling the cooperative to sell at the current market price. Over the last four years, we have utilized the Pro Edge marketing services available through the CVA. These services allow us to use marketing tools such as hedge to arrive contracts, forward contracting, and basis tracking in order to capture more of the value that the market offers. Through this program, we are able to utilize everything we produce on our family farm because of our direct access to market.
Because of the memories we create early on with family farming, we develop a love for agriculture. Without family farms starting it all, we wouldn’t have the same agriculture we have today.
Anna Ready is a Junior at Logan View High School in Northeast Nebraska. She is passionate about advocating for agriculture and educating people on the importance of ag in Nebraska. She plans to attend the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and study Agriculture Education, so she can continue to serve FFA as an Ag Teacher and FFA Advisor!