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Erin Brown / Grand Vale Creative

Gratitude is the key to farming satisfaction

Hey, do you like your work?

If you're a farmer, chances are that you are very satisfied. This is an important issue, because it seems some workers aren't these days.

I have enough gray hair that people often ask me when or if I'll retire. (Some wags suggest that I'm already retired.) The unspoken question is, if I had enough money to support myself without working, would I keep doing it? Farmers sometimes are asked whether they should still plant crops in a year if they can't see a profit doing it.

For most of us, work gives a feeling of of being tied to a larger society, of having a purpose. Working has more than economic benefits.

On my desk I keep a copy of a newspaper column that quotes an article by Fred Herzberg in the Harvard Business Review, who said an important thing: "The opposite of job satisfaction is not job satisfaction, but no job dissatisfaction." In the article, Herzberg argues that a low salary can cause job dissatisfaction, but increasing the salary doesn't necessarily create job satisfaction.

Increasing job satisfaction includes learning and doing new things, but you might not have high job dissatisfaction if you don't have those opportunities. Research shows that office social activities do a good job of making employees smile in the short-term — lowering job dissatisfaction.

It takes something else to achieve high job satisfaction.

Farmers generally are satisfied with their work and so am I. I'm truly thankful for that.

I've had a career writing about agriculture for about 38 years now. I started in 1979 at the Worthington Daily Globe (now a Forum Communications Co. property, as is Agweek). I've loved my work for lots of reasons.

First, the tools are enjoyable. I've enjoyed adding photography to my kit bag of skills. Videography has been an interesting step, and I'm trying to get better at it. That's handy for a feedlot reporter who sometimes brings evidence of his interviews into the vehicle.

But the subject matter — production agriculture — is what is especially interesting.

I enjoy satisfying my curiosity about tools and motivations in a technologically advanced business. Knowing you and your families — sometimes over two or even three generations — brings true satisfaction.

I love meeting and learning about people and doing my part in producing words, pictures, video and digital products that help our readers viewers know themselves and the other players in agriculture.

I"m happy to say that most farmers and ranchers I've met have been satisfied with their work.

Why? First, because they own the place, the tools and have control. Second, because they are living out a destiny that spans multiple generations. They can gaze over lands that their ancestors have stared at, thinking about the promise it holds for them, their families and consumers. And the wisest farmer-ranchers I know are thankful and caring of their family members, employees (or those of their business partners) who make it possible for the owners to have a full and satisfying career.