The miracles of farming
By Jennifer M. Latzke
“There are no miracles in agricultural production.”—Norman Borlaug
March 25 would have been Norman Borlaug’s 100th birthday. And, while the father of the Green Revolution was a visionary, I must say I think on this point he got it wrong.
What is farming and ranching but a world of everyday miracles?
Oh, there are the obvious miracles. Seeds that are planted with faith they’ll grow or calves that take their first wobbly steps just moments after birth spring to mind.
But, with respect, there are so many more.
There’s the miracle of the brilliant young student who follows his passion for farming on his family’s land into leaving that land for college where he studies agronomy. He sticks with it, earning a doctorate and eventually becoming a world-class wheat breeder. At several points along that young man’s path he could have deviated and the world would have been changed. He could have become a concert pianist, or a writer, or a teacher. He didn’t have to become a scientist.
The miracle is that he stuck to his dream despite the long hours, the student loan debt and the pull to go back home and happily run a tractor for the family. And because he stuck to his dream, that young man will contribute to a wheat variety that might hold the key to world hunger.
Consider the miracle of a young woman from the city who marries a dairyman and even without the faintest clue about the dairy business she pitches in and learns from the ground up. She takes on the family dairy as if it was her own. She helps with every facet of the dairy, from the office to the milking parlor.
Now, what is more miraculous than her love for her husband, his family and their farm? It’s what wakes her up every morning to trudge out to a milking parlor. It’s what keeps her awake late into the evening as she sits with a sick calf.
And, what about the young FFA member who’s turning his SAE into a thriving business that will help pay for his college education? Instead of slipping into the temptations of youth, he’s invented a gizmo that will revolutionize agriculture. And he’ll parlay his little business into a large agribusiness someday that helps his community and his neighbors.
Wouldn’t you say using his talents to help others is pretty miraculous?
You see, we can explain most of the miracles of production agriculture with simple science. We know why the seed grows toward light, or the genetics that make the calf polled. And, I’m pretty sure that’s what Borlaug was trying to tell us.
But what’s miraculous is the people who make it all work.
The miracle is that every day, all around this globe, people choose to get up, battle nature and the markets, and raise our food. They choose to learn how to be better at their jobs. They choose to bring innovation to the table.
They choose to be farmers and ranchers when they could be doctors or lawyers or rock stars.
Yes, sir, that’s the miracle in production agriculture.
Jennifer M. Latzke can be reached by phone at 620-227-1807 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.