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.

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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.

 

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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.

 

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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.

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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.

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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.”

 

 

 

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If This Jacket Could Talk

We’re wrapping up National FFA Week, which is a week for chapters and members to share agriculture with their fellow students as well as their communities. Students in our area hosted breakfasts, spoke at conferences, held fundraisers and more. No doubt, the Official Dress and old FFA jacket will be ready for a break after school today.

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If this jacket could talk, it would tell you that it knows Robert – and his Rules of Order- very well.

If this jacket could talk, it would tell you that you might outgrow jacket itself, but you won’t outgrow the memories or experiences.

If this jacket could talk, it would tell you that Official Dress really does matter. No jeans, no dirty boots, no zippers undone:

If this jacket could talk, it would tell you that many of your greatest lessons in high school happen after the 3:00 bell rings.

If this jacket could talk, it would tell you your scarf or tie is hiding in your left pocket.

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If this jacket could talk, it would tell you that when we think of our favorite chapters, we don’t think of a book.

If this jacket could talk, it would tell you that FFA is one organization that has remained true to it’s core through generations. We all still believe in the future of agriculture, with a faith born not of words but of deeds – achievements won by the present and past generations of agriculturists; in the promise of better days through better ways, even as the better things we now enjoy have come to us from the struggles of former years.

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If this jacket could talk, it would tell you that corduroy has a special durability to withstand the harshest October wind streaming through Indianapolis during convention, pins and embroidery needles that come along with leadership changes and even constructive criticism from judges.

If this jacket could talk, it would tell you to prepare yourself for the day that you hang up your jacket, placing it in the back corner of your closet, knowing it’s work is done, never to be worn again. It is a moment that signifies the end of a chapter in your life. But don’t you worry, the best is yet to come.

If this jacket could talk, it would tell you that FFA is more than future farmers of America, but rather future botanists, food scientists, veterinarians, ag journalists, loan officers, chemical salesmen, farm broadcasters, teachers, nutritionists, applicators, mechanics and so much  more.

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Thank you to the advisors who dedicate so much of their time and energy to the students of the FFA organization, to the students who comprise such a promising group of future agriculturalists and to the parents who buy an endless supply of black panty hose and clean white oxford shirts for four years to get those students through. The FFA is an organization that gives us such promise of better days.

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Summer Harvest Supper

Harvest Land farmer-members recently attended a Summer Harvest Supper, hosted on the family farm of one of our members. The intent of this supper, organized by Farm Bureau, was to invite consumers to share a meal with local producers and open the evening to conversation about food production.

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The evening began with a brief reception with wine from  J&J Winery and vegetables – and the best candied bacon you could imagine –  from local growers and pork producers.

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Each supper table was set for six consumers and two producers. The producers consisted of dairymen, beef, poultry and swine producers, grain farmers, large animal veterinarians, extension agents, and fruit and vegetable growers. Harvest Land was well represented, having farmer-members, an employee and even a former Director serving as experts in food production.

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The consumers included a wide array of people, including college students, business owners, school superintendents, bankers, the Chamber of Commerce, real estate agents, medical doctors and more.

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The setting of the event was perfect, in the yard of the farmstead, next to a cornfield lined with sweet corn, which the attendees shared during the family-style supper.

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Everything enjoyed during the supper was grown and prepared locally. Sweet corn, green beans, beef, honey, bacon and more.

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Each table had a set of prepared questions, should the consumers not know what to ask in order to learn more about where their food comes from. Our experience was that no one needed those prompting questions! The consumers came with questions and concerns about various things, such as raw milk, pesticides, what to look for at the meat counter to have a great beef eating experience, confined feeding operations and much, much more.

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Every twenty minutes the two producers would rotate to the next table, giving the consumers the opportunity to ask the experts in many different areas – dairy, pork, beef, grain, vegetables, etc.

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Local FFA chapters from Western Wayne, Hagerstown and Northeastern joined us to serve the dishes and deliver drinks in an efficient manor.

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The Summer Harvest Supper was a success and a very enjoyable evening. Some indicators of success at an event such as this are having a consumer approach you after the event and simply say, “Thank you for tonight. I feel so much better about grocery shopping for my family.” Or, “I’m not afraid of milk anymore!”. The event allowed people to put a friendly face with the idea of food production.

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We’d like to thank Neil and LuAnn Gettinger for opening their farm to a large group of curious folks. Everyday those involved in food production are faced with a general public which is largely misinformed about where their food comes from and how it is produced. This event helped farmers educate consumers on the safest, most abundant food supply in the world: Ours.

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To the Class of 2017

The open houses are winding down, senior awards programs are over and the lockers have been officially emptied out.

Another school year is over.

This spring we awarded thirteen outstanding high school seniors with a $1,000 scholarship to aid in their college expenses. These very deserving students are pursuing post-high school agricultural degrees. They are, in fact, the future of agriculture. And a bright future, it is: Agricultural engineers, economists and communicators, veterinarians,  diesel technicians, plant geneticists and more….the list of dream jobs coming out of this bunch is very promising. We also recognize employees’ children who graduated this spring and are pursuing post-high school education. From Indianapolis east to Dayton and Ft. Wayne south to Cincinnati, students from all over Harvest Land’s trade market are chosen annually.

Congratulations to our 2017 recipients:

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You have a lot of change ahead of you! New classes, courses, instructors, living spaces, friends, supper spots, responsibilities and choices. If we could offer you just one piece of advice, it would be this:

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You are about to enter a new world that is filled with daily choices that will set you on the path towards a future with promise. We hope that each day, while you recognize opportunities to blaze your own trail, you’ll be true to yourself.

Have confidence in yourself and who you are. Stand up for what you believe in. Don’t forget where you came from or how you were raised. Choose your words words wisely. Spend your time with intent. Do the things that matter to you. Surround yourself with people that strengthen you. Trust your gut. Be true to yourself.

We wish every graduate of the class of 2017
the absolute best as they leave high school and enter
college, trade school or the work force.
Your story is just beginning!

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Cultivating Communities: Hancock County Safety Day

Hancock County Farm Bureau is the proud sponsor of the 2017 Safety Day for youth enrolled in 4-H programs in Hancock County. Annually the Farm Bureau works with local police and fire departments, EMTs and local businesses to come up with relevant safety topics for area youth.

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Participants rotate through stations and are given materials to take back to share with their local 4-H Clubs.

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Harvest Land employees were happy to spend their Saturday at this event, as it allows us to cultivate safety education in the communities in which we live and serve.

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2017 presenters included:

Harvest Land – Julie Lamberson – Grain Safety

Greenfield Fire Department – Fire Extinguisher Safety

Hancock Regional Hospital – Linda Garriety – Safe Sitter Program

Smith Implements – Mower and ATV Safety

Harvest Land & Fayette County Honor Society – Earth Day & Recycling Safety

Purdue Extension – Megan Addison – Food safety

We appreciate any invitation to educate the youth in our area,

especially when it comes to safety in agriculture.
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After all, these are the faces of our future.

Were You Hired To Do That?

A middle school student, from a town not far from our cooperative headquarters, was given the assignment to job shadow someone working in a field that might interest him down the road.

His top choices for a future career – at age 14 – were

  • a pediatrician (should a student spend their day in a medical office during flu season?)
  • a preacher (he gets weekly insight from this field every Sunday and at youth group)
  • the agricultural field (he chose to spend his day at our farmer-owned cooperative)

I had a meeting with our agronomist and the gentleman that this student was shadowing for the day, our Chief Operations Officer. The three of us discussed plans for an upcoming presentation we are giving at Ball State University, while the student sat in quiet observation. After collaboration over a meal, we engaged the student by explaining to him our individual paths that lead to the current positions we have within Harvest Land.

It was a really valuable conversation. Not only did I learn about the very unique roads my coworkers have taken to get to the successful levels they’re at today, but I also noticed a trend that I think is worth sharing with you.

One employee never went to college, they went straight to into the work force out of high school.

One employee went to a highly accredited 4-year university (after turning down an offer at Notre Dame) and even went on to attain their Master’s.

One employee graduated with a bachelor’s degree in a non-agriculture field.

All three were leaps and bounds above the level – both in position and pay – in which they were first hired (one started at $1 an hour – and it wasn’t 1929). All three shared oddly similar stories when visiting with the job-shadowing-student.

All three never turned down a job.
  • Sweeping the shop floor
  • Answering phones
  • Tying feed sacks
  • Mixing chemicals
  • Making the office coffee (which could be comparable to mixing chemicals)
  • Washing trucks
  • Delivering meals to the field
  • Cleaning up after meetings or guests
  • Taking out the trash
  • Sweeping out bins
  • Working in the pit
  • Loading trucks with bagged feed
  • Painting tanks
  • Making parts runs
  • And more

These were just a few of the things these highly successful adults did in their early careers.

“Were you hired to do that?!” the student asked the COO.
“No, I wasn’t. But it needed done.”

What a lesson that can resonate with today’s students about to begin their careers. There is a strange expectation from many who are early in their career that they will get hired into a middle management position and climb the ladder of success by starting on the third rung. Today’s work force doesn’t work that way. The workforce in 2007 didn’t work that way. The work force in 1997 didn’t work that way. The work force in 1987 didn’t work that way. Do you notice a trend?

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What an advantage someone will have if they choose early in life to do the work that needs to be done, whether it was written in their job description, or not. Those who keep the phrase “That’s not my job,” off their lips will have a far greater advantage over those who use it.

Now, this isn’t giving every supervisor across America to take advantage of those who work hard.

But we offer this encouragement to those who want to be successful in their field of choice: If you’re willing to do more than what is expected of you, more opportunities than you expect will come your way. 

work bootsWe believe that farm kids get hired and promoted regularly because they understand that there is work to be done, no matter who does it. They come from a place where 5:00 PM simply means that there is still four more hours of daylight and work ahead of them. They come from a team that doesn’t clock in or clock out – their work begins when the boots go on and it ends when they come off…and then they have to eat dinner with their co-workers.

Farm kids understand that even the bosses have to do the dirty jobs sometimes – – -because they’ve seen their grandfathers use auto steer in the brand new tractor in the same day that they saw him picking up rocks out of the field.

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We encourage those early in their career to take full advantage of the opportunities to do many different jobs – the good, bad, and ugly – when given the chance. Not only will it offer you new experiences, it will expand your skill set and build your character.

And who knows, it might start a really enlightening conversation in 30 years when you’re being job shadowed by an eager middle schooler trying to figure out the world.

Two Hours To Save A Life

Our cooperative business has been around for nearly a century. In that time we’ve seen communities expand, infrastructure develop, technology evolve and most importantly, families grow.

Every generation we work with is different, none better or worse, just different. Each has varying experiences, challenges and opportunities. Something that doesn’t change from generation to generation is the desire for the family farm to be passed on. Each grower we work with is making decisions today that will affect the longevity and success of the family farm, to be handed down to the next, special generation.

Harvest Land is also making decisions today to ensure the next generation is prepared to take the reins when it’s time.

On April 1 we’re hosting a free grain safety youth workshop for ages 10-16. This workshop will have a hands-on live entrapment demonstration portion as well as a classroom session. The event will take two hours and we’re hosting two on the same day; from 10:00 AM – 12:00 PM and 1:00 PM – 3:00 PM. Attendees may choose which session they’d like to attend.

Two hours. That’s the brief amount of time this workshop will take, but the lessons learned from it could one day save a life. Two hours to save a life of someone quite special.

We invite you to share this link and invitation to those in our trade territory, ages 10 – 16, who might find this training valuable.

We are committed to doing our part to ensure
that the family farm is around for the next generation,
and that the next generation is around for the family farm.

2017 Grain Safety Youth Workshop

The WinField Crop Adventure

Growing up there was one phrase, comprised of only two words, which if spoken was sure to land you in a bad place.

“I’m bored.”

This brief declaration was usually followed by this powerful response: “Oh, I can fix that.”

Mom and Dad were always good for their word.

Picking up sticks or nails, hauling manure via wheelbarrow, sorting the recycling and smashing aluminum cans with a homemade steel tamper, stacking wood, pushing rocks up hills. The list of boredom-prevention exercises goes on and on. One summer morning I recall the hay tedder broke down and we actually tedded an entire hayfield by pitchfork. That was a fun day. A hot one, too.

I never looked at boredom the same way again.

Summer is in full swing and soon – believe it or not – the county fairs will be over and families will have a bit more free time to do some traveling. Ten days at Disney World livestock free, you ask?

Not likely.

However, there is a place that just opened that might feel a little like Disney World to a kid involved in agriculture.

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The Winfield Crop Adventure has officially opened at Fair Oaks Farms in northwest Indiana. This hands-on exhibit is designed to fully engage participants in understanding exactly what it takes to grow food for a population growing quickly to 9 billion people. It’s very likely that the kids in your family “get it”, but this state-of-the-art exhibit is sure to educate and impress even the most seasoned agriculturalists. Yourself, included.

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What can you experience?

  • Meet the farmers who grow your food.
  • Burrow deep underground to see bugs and roots.
  • See and touch the high-tech tools farmer use.
  • Catch virtual raindrops.
  • Imagine the future of modern farming.
  • Discover how corn, soy and wheat improve our lives.
  • Take your picture with your favorite bugs.
  • Learn what soil doctors do.
  • Find the right ag career for you.

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So pack up the kids, or grandkids, or the annoying neighbor kids who have absolutely no idea about food production, and head to Fair Oaks Farms to visit the new Winfield Crop Adventure. Teach everyone a thing or five while getting out of your home area and combatting the “I’m bored” scenario.

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Check out all Fair Oaks Adventures

Oh, and might we suggest a place for dinner on your way home? Culver’s has a fantastic partnership with America’s farmers and they’re actively working to help us tell our story. I highly recommend the double butter burger with fries and a vanilla snickers concrete mixer for dessert, but that may just be the boredom talking.

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