Finding Balance in the 2%

On Tuesday night Harvest Land was a sponsor of the 2018 Wayne County Rural Urban Banquet. This is a treasured tradition in the area, where people who dwell within the city limits share a meal and fellowship with those who make a living out on a country mile. For decades this event has brought farmers, business owners, elected officials and rural route residents to the table. It is a very popular event in east central Indiana.

This year was special in that the keynote speaker was Zippy Duvall, President of HPraerNi_400x400the National Farm Bureau Federation. Zippy is a third-generation farmer from Georgia. In addition to a 400-head beef cow herd for which he grows his own hay, Duvall and his wife, Bonnie, also grow more than 750,000 broilers per year. Have you ever eaten at Chick-fil-A? Chances are you enjoyed one of his birds.
Zippy delivered a fantastic address regarding the current state of government affairs in Washington and the issues on the table that will matter in agriculture, and in turn affect the food on tables in homes and restaurants. Though a large majority of the evening crowd may feel a disconnection to agriculture, the truth is that it affects nearly every aspect of their life, including food, clothing, energy and more.

Ag Day 20162

Many are familiar with the fact that only 2% of Americans farm today. Decades ago nearly every American family tended a garden because they had to; they depended on it year-around for fresh and canned produce. Today, most who have a garden do so because they enjoy the work and art of growing food for their family to enjoy. Gardens are no longer mandatory for feeding a family (much like 20 hens, a dairy cow, a beef steer, a hog, etc. also were) because the two-percent grow enough for food the rest of us.

The 2% of Americans farm, which gives 98% of Americans the freedom to do other things.

Other things, such as a chef who prepares a meal for new, exhausted parents who haven’t left the house in more than three weeks.

Other things, such as the 911 dispatcher who calmly answers the phone and talks to a terrified stranger on the other end of the line.

Other things, such as the child protective services employee who removes a child from an unimaginable home situation.

librarian with kids in libraryOther things, such as the librarian who encourages a child to put down an iPad and pick up a book, opening up a whole new world.

Other things, such as the generator installer who worked all night so a doctor’s office had restored power by the time the doors opened at 7:30 AM.

Other things, such as the fraud prevention officer at the bank who watches account information so that money within savings accounts stay there.

Other things, such as the fire fighter who runs into a burning building when everyone else is running out.

Other things, such as the loan officer who finds the way to loan a few bucks to a newlywed couple trying to buy their first home.

Other things, such as the tow truck driver who doesn’t sleep when snow falls, roads freeze or potholes get the best of another highway traveler.

2% of Americans farm, which gives 98% of Americans the freedom to do so many other, important things.

While 2% and 98% seem awfully off balance, if you consider the many admirable things others do outside of agriculture, you’ll realize that the work tends to balance. Harvest Land is grateful to be a part of events, such as the Rural Urban Banquet, that allow us to come together for an evening and remember that.



Growth for Advocacy

Last week a group of Harvest Land farmer-members and employees attended the Land O’Lakes Annual meeting in Minneapolis. During this meeting our representative group was part of the launch of Growth for Advocacy.

Growth for Advocacy is a program based around Land O’ Lakes’ vision of an increasing dialogue with consumers in regards to modern agriculture practices and how those of us within agriculture can become better storytellers.


LOL Annual 2018
Growth for Advocacy Attendees Included:
Front row: Jessica Naylor, Beth Vansickle, Melanie Caldwell, Kevin Antrim, Brandi Doan, Jeremy Myers, Chris Myers, Amy Circle, Scott Logue (CEO, in attendance for annual meeting only)
Back row: Gene Tapalman (Director, in attendance for annual meeting only), Bob Newhouse (Director, in attendance for annual meeting only), Curt Naylor, Dave Vansickle, Tom Caldwell, Kyle Brooks, Eric Doan, Sean Younclaus, Case Circle

David Vansickle, YieldPro Specialist from our Lapel Ag Center, and his wife, Beth, participated in this program.

“I am very thankful for the opportunity presented to me by the Harvest Land Board and senior leadership to attend the Land O’ Lakes Annual Meeting and Growth for Advocacy,” said Vansickle. “I was able to come away from these three days in Minneapolis with a deeper understanding and appreciation for all of the components of Land O’ Lakes and how they work to help both farmer profitability, but also those at the local co-op.  Growth for Advocacy inspired and taught me to, not only be more proactive in helping to tell the story of modern agriculture across different platforms, but also how to be strategic in my approach.”


The purpose of the program is to ensure that our voices, as those directly involved in agriculture, are heard.  That includes anything from social media, to setting up farm visits in our area for schools or communities to visit and learn.  It is also a way to become more involved at a national level by working with Land O’Lakes and doing advocacy in Washington DC by meeting with elected officials.


With a constant, cyclical list of things to do through out the year in order to plant, grow and harvest a successful crop, it is very easy for farmers to worry about their own operation and believe that someone else takes care of thinking through rules and regulations.

But in reality, the most powerful voices in agriculture at all levels are the farmers, themselves.

Companies like Land O’Lakes can tell the story, but it is far more powerful hearing the stories from the farmers because the decisions made by legislatures will affect their livelihood.


Additionally, the group was reminded that it is very easy to consider those that are anti-GMO, or supportive of antibiotic-free meat and just tell them they are flat out wrong.  However,  there is so much power in having the ability to listen to their reasoning, and then educate them on the facts. Perhaps not to necessarily to change their mind on the spot, but to encourage them to do more research than just what they may hear or see on Facebook.

Harvest Land President and CEO, Scott Logue, was attending the Annual Meeting and able to visit with Growth for Advocacy participants.

“Harvest Land had the greatest showing of advocates from any other cooperative in the United States,” he reported. “This proves our commitment to being a positive and educational voice for the agriculture industry far past our own farm gates. I’m grateful for the group of Harvest Land farmer-members and employees who made this trip to represent our cooperative. Now, we’ll work to apply the principles learned and become better advocates for an industry that offers so much to our communities and the world.”