Someone once said farmers are like gamblers. Every year they bet it all that their crops will succeed and the price at market will be enough to take care of their family and their operation. What if they don’t succeed? Well, they are literally betting the farm. And when you do that, bad things can happen.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, 90% of crop losses in the U.S. are because of extreme weather; something even the hardest working and most intelligent farmer cannot control. Record-breaking cold in January will kill winter wheat. Massive amounts of snow in February will strand herds of beef cattle. And lots of rain in April will flood fields and delay planting. Each of these instances are common in rural America. And when they do occur, farmers run the risk of losing their only paycheck. Mortgage payments are missed, equipment maintenance is delayed, college funds dry up, and money to buy the seeds and chemicals for next year’s crop all but vanishes. And then the people who WE rely on to put food on our tables suddenly find themselves having a hard time buying food themselves. Seriously.
In the past year or more American farmers and ranchers have faced tremendous obstacles to success. Extreme weather made it impossible to harvest some crops and plant new ones last year. While the President negotiated new tariffs with China, agricultural exports (and prices) declined. Then our rural producers of food faced down the same coronavirus disaster the rest of us experienced. But because the supply chains broke down many were forced to abandon their harvest in the field, dump their milk, and kill barns full of chickens, pigs and cattle that could not be butchered and or make their way to market. Most gamblers by then would have hung it up. And if the farmers and ranchers did, who could blame them. But the American farmer and rancher is stronger than that.
Those that survived work hard under the faith that “next year will be better.” Even if it is not always true. There is no guarantee of that, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t appreciate their hard work and buy American made agricultural products when we can. America’s agricultural industry has had it rough. Let’s hope they are rewarded for their perseverance one of these years.