Monday, February 23, 2015

Planting the Crop, Crossing the Finish Line

By Holly Spangler, Penton Agriculture

In the USFRA-produced documentary, Farmland, there's a scene where the Nebraska corn and soybean farm family plots out their day of planting. They're running behind, racing against rain and planning to run two planters all night, or at least until the rain starts. With his dad lost to cancer, young farmer David Loberg runs one planter, while his mother runs the other. The movie never reveals exactly whether they were able to finish that night, but the swell of the music sure makes you feel like it's possible.

I've tried to figure out what it is that gets me about that scene. I've seen the movie twice and while I cry as this young man tells of losing his dad (tears in the shop? Of course I will cry along), there's something completely compelling about this springtime race against time.

It's a scenario that every last farmer on every last continent knows all too well: the crop must be planted, before the rain comes. It's simple agronomics. Except that it's not so simple when it's your acres and your investment. Your operating loan. Your crop.

And I've wondered: Is this what makes farmers so passionate about what they do? Is it the risk that drives them forward every morning? Or the passion itself?

Either way, it makes for a special profession. A special industry, full of people eager to get up every day, take the risk, and push through to the finish.

Like the Loberg family in Farmland, it's the scene we'll watch play out in townships all across the nation this spring: planting. Racing a marathon rather than a sprint, and pushing onward to the finish line.

Perseverance and hard work. It's the exact things that make American agriculture worth celebrating.

Holly Spangler is the Special Projects Editor at Penton Agriculture. She blogs about issues relating to young farmers, consumers and more at her blog, My Generation.