By Jason Schaefer
I recently went to the Minnesota State FFA Convention. It was the best one I have ever been to. The people, speakers, and friends were fantastic. FFA to people means many different things, but really it just means "Ag Education."
To students, it can mean so much more. Some may think that it is just a way to skip one more day of school, to others it is place to make new friends and a place for them to learn skills so they can be tomorrow's leaders.
At both the state and national convention you will find people who know nothing about ag or rural life. I remember just this last fall at the National FFA Convention, a group of a couple thousand FFA kids were walking across the street in front of stopped cars and I heard a cop mumble something like this to a another cop. "The way these kids act, they have no rhyme or reason to what they are doing." I just had to think to myself, do those cops even know what we do for a living?
In our eyes there is a rhyme and reason for what we are doing. If those cops came out to rural Minnesota, I really believe that they would be lost. Who knows, they may believe that their food is made at the grocery store and not from a farm. As I was sitting at our FFA spring banquet listening to our keynote speaker, Kevin Paap, he started talking about an article out of the San Francisco news paper saying "To all you hunters shame on you, you ought to get your meat that was made at the grocery store where no animal were harmed." After I got done laughing at the stupidity of the person who wrote that article, I thought to myself, we as farmers have a job -- not only one but two jobs. Not only do we need to feed the world, but we need to spread the word about what we do in the world so that they will open their eyes to see that food is not made in a store but produced on a small or large farm.
People need to see that we, as farmers, care about our water supply and want to keep it safe for our kids and grandkids. We, as farmers, want to keep the air clean -- we do not want global warming or cooling whatever the lefties are calling it by now (it changes every year). We live in this world just like everyone else does and we do whatever we can to keep it safe and clean.
Being born and brought up on a livestock farm, I know first hand what goes on at a livestock farm. We work 365 days a year, we do not get weekends or holidays off. Livestock have to be fed and kept clean no matter what day it is. I read about how well farmers in the U.S. care about their animals. They are fed every day until they are full; they have clean and warm barns or pens to live in. Their health care was second in the world but will now be the best in the world after this new health care system is enforced on we the American people.
If an animal is sick it does not take a week or two before the farmer checks out the sick animal; it is the minute after the farmer sees that there is something wrong with it. With these few examples I have just given, it looks to me that animals are treated better than most people are. So when P.E.T.A keeps talking about how farmers do not care about their animals, we do care; we care very much. Farmers want to keep their animals comfortable so that they are the most productive; I think it is called something like preventive care.
The reason I am writing this is because I do care about the future of ag. When I was at the State FFA Convention I listened to a speaker that said that if every FFA member went back home and spread the word about ag, it would make huge impact on how people see ag in the U.S.
"I believe in the future of agriculture, with a faith born not of words but of deeds ..." this is the first part of the FFA Creed. If you have never read it you should, as I believe that it is a good outline to how a farmer lives life.
Jason Schaefer is a resident of Hancock.