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5 Farmer Resolutions for the New Year

It’s become tradition to make resolutions with the new year. These typically involve meeting a goal such as losing weight or saving a certain amount of money or changing a behavior, like cutting back on TV time.

Farmers could have an endless list or resolutions spanning the farm, family, and personal growth. Betsy Freese has a great list of resolutions for farmers from 2018 that still apply in 2019. I’d like to add a few to that list.

1. Have conversations with consumers about their food choices and listen to the reasons they make them. 

I put this first because I think it’s the hardest, for several reasons. First, we grow the food, so it’s hard to talk with consumers and not take what they say personally. Second, often when we should be actively listening, we’re busy formulating a response in our minds so we don’t truly hear what is being said.

Consumers talk about food because it’s important to them and they have connections to it. Don’t believe me?  Mention cornbread to anyone in my family and I bet they will talk about how we looked forward to my grandma’s skillet cornbread on the holidays.

Consumers ask questions because they don’t know how or why food is raised the way it is. They shouldn’t, and we need to stop expecting them to inherently understand what we do. If they are asking, it shows interest and we need to take advantage of this opportunity to connect. Food is personal for everyone. Talk with a consumer about their food choices – perhaps one sitting across the table from you.

2. Make healthier food choices during the busy season.

Farmers often eat lunch (and sometimes breakfast and dinner) on the tailgate or in the tractor cab. That means a meal is often fast food because it’s quick and you can eat it with one hand, but it’s not necessarily healthy. Those meals can translate into added pounds, leading to health issues.

Added to that, many rural areas lack doctors and hospitals, so seeking medical care is a challenge. During planting and harvest, most farmers don’t have time to visit the doctor, even if there is one nearby.

If you eat on the go, resolve to make small changes such as choosing grilled or baked over fried.

3. Learn about one part of agriculture you aren’t directly involved in.

You may be wondering why this shows up on the list. As farmers, I think it’s easy to stay in our lanes and only talk with farmers that grow or raise the same thing we do. Stepping into another lane of agriculture has many benefits.

I can talk about sweet potatoes all day long, but until I met several commercial fisherman and toured fish houses, I knew nothing about that industry other than what I read in the paper. Connecting with them opened my eyes to the challenges we share and those unique to each part of our industry.

Going back to #1 on my list, I now feel more comfortable having a conversation about commercial fishing with consumers because I’ve made connections and seen that part of our industry.

What’s one part of the agriculture industry you aren’t that familiar with? Find a farmer who grows, raises, or catches it and get to know them.

4. Connect with your legislators.

It’s no secret that less than 2% of the population is farming, and that number creeps closer to 1% every day. In my state, agriculture is the No. 1 industry. We can’t afford to wait until we need something to connect with our elected officials. If a bill affecting agriculture crosses their desk, we need to be their first call. If farmers aren’t connected with the decision makers, they can’t hear how potential legislation could affect us and vote accordingly. We must take that step and make those connections, not wait on them to find us.

Can you name one of your elected officials? If not, resolve to not only know their name, but connect with them in some way this year.

5. Spend time with your family outside the tractor cab.

Last, but not least, make time to spend with your family away from the farm. Go on a trip, even if it’s just for the day. Coach your child’s ball team, volunteer in their classroom, or meet them for lunch at school. Have a date night with your spouse or significant other. Farming is a wonderful life for our family, but it’s good to get away sometimes.

Where is one place your family would enjoy?  Pick a spot and resolve to visit it this year.

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