My high school's mascot is a farmer, with overalls, a pitchfork, and an angry grimace on his face. I was, and still am, proud to come from a rural area where farming is a significant part of everyone's lives.
Growing up in the Midwest, specifically Illinois, we are in farming country. When we think of a farmer in our modern world, an image very similar to my high school mascot comes to mind. Maybe there's a piece of wheat in their mouth, some hat on top of their head, and they are standing next to a fence post. This idea is like a stock photo of what a farmer, but there is so much more. Being a farmer is a job title that not many have, but they hold the weight of the world on their shoulders.
If you didn't know, farmers are multi-taskers. They wear more hats than most people because they are mechanics, veterinarians, scientists, accountants, fathers, mothers, sons, daughters, and every other job and role you can think of. Having the balancing act of taking care of thousands of acres of lands is not an easy feat. By no means can you describe this profession as "just a farmer."
I have realized growing up that people look down on this profession because they don't wear a suit and tie every day and may not have received an education past high school. That is very narrow-minded though because I firmly believe we learn some of the most essential things in life from our experiences. Whether you are a farmer sporting a master's degree while feeding cattle or a farmer with a high school degree working on a half million dollar farm equipment, you are educated and knowledgeable not only in your field but in so many others.
We as a society portray farmers as simple, greedy, and many other negative terms to describe this line of work. Maybe we should use other words for this profession like innovative because farmers have to improve their practices continue to keep their business afloat and make the most of their resources. They are passionate about the land that has been in their family for generations and the reasons why they farm. Farmers are stressed out with the job that never stops. Farming is a job with little control over your well-being. Mother Nature is not always on your side. Commodity prices aren't always going up, while expenses continue to rise. There are the emotional ties to the land, the animals, and the work you do every day from sunup to sundown (most of the time longer). Farming is not black and white—there is so much gray that sometimes it can be overwhelming for a farmer and their family. Suicide rates are on the rise for farmers, and we need to address this growing problem in our nation and all over the globe.
I may no longer be a Farmington Farmer, but I am still and always will be a farmer's daughter. I come from a long line of people with a love of agriculture, from my brothers, dad, grandfathers, great-grandfathers, and uncles. I will always have a passion for the agriculture industry. Pray for our farmers, support your local farmers, and take the chance to get to know these people who are working around the clock to help feed the world. It doesn't matter if you are a vegan or full-on carnivore, the farmer is working for you. They are the quiet and hardworking backbone of our society, ensuring we have food and drink on our kitchen tables. There is so much more than meets the eye when it comes to a farmer. When you look past the rough hands and dirty clothes, a farmer has a heart for working others and a passion for so much more.