By Don Hartman
Who will fill my shoes? Who’s going to be the next one to plant the seeds, and grow and harvest the crops? Who will feed the calves and milk the dairy cows when farmers are no longer here or not able to do so?
Young farmers, that’s who. But where do they come from? They could be a first-generation farmer like myself or the eighth generation on a farm that was established years ago.
For me, it started with a dream. A dream is like a seed that gets planted, then cultivated, and with hard work it finally grows and bears fruit, becoming reality.
Farming is a calling. It gets in your blood. Family farmers are a special breed. We are thick-skinned but tender-hearted. We are church deacons and T-ball coaches. We are 4-H leaders and volunteer firefighters. We are the neighbor in times of need. The volunteer in hard times. We are members of our small communities, but feeders of the world.
There are both challenges and opportunities ahead of us. It’s a challenge to connect with consumers, to understand their wants and needs. It’s also a challenge to earn and keep their trust.
But there is opportunity now more than ever. Recent issues due to the COVID-19 pandemic caused a breakdown in the supply chain. People need to know that those of us in agriculture never stopped. We have always produced food – during wars, pandemics and every trying and difficult time throughout history – family farms are there for you. We produce!
Although time and technology have changed the way we farm, farm families haven’t changed.
We still have the same spirit, drive and work ethic. I love what I do! My son followed in my footsteps and learned from me. Today, my grandson is working with and learning from his daddy. That’s what farm families are all about. We are growing families, growing food, growing America and #StillFarming.
Don Hartman is a farmer and member of the New Mexico Farm & Livestock Bureau. He grows small grains, watermelons, onions and chile peppers.