Despite tough economic times producers show faith, resolve

With thoughts of the New Year, I'm hearing about resolutions. Resolutions to lose weight. Resolutions to read more. Resolutions to study more. Resolutions to travel. Resolutions to work smarter.

Resolutions are easy to make, they say, and even easier to break. So, I've come to find out that it's far easier to make a general outline of what the last year was like and work from there.

So, here's my New Year's Un-Resolution. At the top of the list is to visit more farms and producers in the coming year.

This past year I've visited folks like Milton Prince, Richard Thomas, Neil Bowen, Wayland Spruill, M.D. Floyd, M.L. Everett, Jr., John Hart, James Brixey, Tracey Harding, Haine Haigler, Bo Norris, Buddy Tucker and Spurgeon Foster — as well as a number of Extension specialists and researchers.

That's just a sprinkling of the folks I've visited with this past season for articles. I've got a list of others I haven't gotten around to, but intend to visit.

That's the best part of agriculture, the people. It's easy for a company to say that. It actually is good public relations. But to visit the producers who make it happen day in and day out, year in and year out in the environment we've got today, brings home the importance to faith and resolve.

Despite hard economic times, the faces of producers exhibit a quite hope and faith. Several of the farmers whom I've visited with this year have come right out and said so. “Without faith and prayer, I don't see how anybody can do it.”

That's encouraging to hear, because beyond the bottom line, there is the bottom line. Times change, fortunes fluctuate, but a good foundation will remain despite the winds and the rains.

I've also seen the same optimism in the faces and actions of younger farmers who have determined what's important to them and acted on those decisions. For example, a young farmer who displays a picture of his fiancé near the speedometer of his pickup truck. Another young farmer picks the first cotton bloom of the season for his wife.

Small gestures, you might say, but ones that look beyond the obvious bottom line to the one that actually counts in the long run: Relationships.

So I guess I've said all that to say this: I look forward in the coming year to hearing your stories of successes and trials in the production of the nation's food and fiber. But I especially look forward to meeting more of you eye-to-eye, seeing the optimism amid the turmoil and marveling at the way you handle the bottom line decisions. Call or write if I can be of help.

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