This time of year, we often think about the change of seasons. Except Mother Nature hasn’t been playing nice this year. The storms, blizzards, floods, and cold temperatures make us wonder if spring and nice weather will ever get here.
But this year, my mind has been going to other season changes such as farming careers, agriculture in general, industry traditions and valued friends. How do we go through these changes?
Several of our close farming friends have made recent changes. Some retired and handed the operation over to the next generation. Others retired and rented their land to young farmers in our neighborhood. Another chose not to retire but to step back from being the lead on the day to day decisions in their large crop and livestock operation. All of these decisions did not come easily, taking thought and several visits with their accountant and lawyer to make them happen. Each decision has affected the people differently. One is greatly relieved to not worry about the growing, complex decisions that need to be made each day. Another is feeling a little lost. He’s not sure how he will fill each day – but don’t worry, his time is filled with productive work! And another says he still worries about the younger people renting his land and if they will make it through this down time. Each one of these have passion and compassion for agriculture and worked in it each day, so it’s natural they can’t completely separate themselves from the day to day activities.
Agriculture in general is going through a season change. The recently released agricultural census shows us just how much! One area that doesn’t surprise those of us actively involved is the growing number of female farm operators. Any of us who have been involved in agriculture know women operators and have no doubt how many are decision makers. It’s nice to see the data. Another change was the average age of farmer increased to 57.6. This move upward in age means we are going to continue to change who is operating our farms. But most importantly, 96% of all US farms are family owned. That’s amazing when you look at other industries. Do they have that much family influence?
Sometimes, I get teased about being a world traveler. Well, I have to say I am very lucky to attend as many events as I do. Some are for my volunteer activities, some for HMG, and some for just plain ol’ fun. But what’s really cool about these travels are all the pork industry people I count as friends. One tradition I really treasure is the National Pork Forum where many of the past NPPC presidents gather. We catch up on each other’s lives and activities. We are a diverse group but very dedicated to the pork industry. The cancellation of this year’s World Pork Expo makes me sad not to see many people in the industry for our yearly “family” reunion, but it is definitely the right decision.
As each of you enjoy the season change, take a few moments to reflect on how these changes affect you and what you can do to make them positive. It’s an exercise worth your time and effort. Enjoy spring!!