Long ago, I believe it was 1962, I was the creed speaker for my FFA chapter.
Reciting the FFA creed is a competitive event for first-year FFA students. The opening sentence is still recalled easily.
“I believe in the future of farming with a faith born not of words, but of deeds – achievements won by past and present generations of farmers “
The FFA creed has been updated since I memorized it those many years ago. The word farmer has been replaced by agriculturists.
It shows how FFA has changed its position reflecting that there are fewer actual farmers, while the need to feed a population removed from the farm remains great.
Where does food production begin?
We’d like to think on the farm, but what farmer has his own source of nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus? What farmer builds his own machinery or has a seed-breeding program or manufactures herbicide?
What farmer has a food processing facility to make his crops or livestock into the next form in preparation for the consumer?
Why am I referring to farmers in the male (his) form when there are capable women farmers?
We are all agriculturists – whether growing, processing, transporting or preparing the necessary inputs such as seed, fertilizer, machinery, fuel, credit, veterinary services, education and more, including a farm newspaper.
That was one of my thoughts when reading the creed I recited and comparing it to the one used today.
The other thought had to do with that 14- or 15-year-old kid that I was back then trying to recite the creed in a way that I knew something about what I was talking about.
In all honesty, I don’t think I had a clue about farming and what happened all around me, even back then when a John Deere 4020 was a big tractor and cabs were talked about, but only sissies bought a tractor with one.
I knew it was something my dad and all our neighbors did and they seemed to enjoy it.
It was a wonderful way of life and a truly privileged way to grow up. It was something to be treasured and try to pass on to future generations of farmers. Or now, agriculturists.
Yes, I would like a second chance to be an FFA creed speaker knowing what I know today. I would not have to search for a way to sound convincing about the future of agriculture.
It would be easy to think about those “present and past generations of farmers” because I would be describing my dad and my son. In between those two are my years.
I don’t claim to be the greatest farmer. My rows tended to not be arrow straight. In the end, I gave up and described them as having “a graceful arc.”
I do believe that my farm grew in productivity and the place, in general, has not suffered.
I hope I will leave the place in the same or better condition than when I started, while being a link in an endless chain of events called food production.
And isn’t that what the future of farming is?
Rye is a Farm News staff writer and farmer from Hanlontown. Reach him by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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