I believe in the future of agriculture
Friesen recalls his start in sandbox farming that eventually grew into making a living from farming, teaching and advising in farm planning.
For some reason when I was little, I farmed our sandbox many, many times. When it started to get cold outside, I move the farming operation to the basement. Growing older I loved doing tillage and hauling wagon loads using a tractor with no cab. Yes, kids tractors without cabs! It was not always comfortable but I knew that to live and work on a good farm was pleasant as well as challenging. I just wanted to farm.
Many days I thought about how previous generations had done things and then I imagined even better days through better ways. However, the economics of agriculture in the '80s and other factors made me realize my path back to the farm may not be as direct as I had planned.
One day in ag class a guy came to our classroom to talk about colleges and majors. I had never thought about being an ag teacher but for some reason that day I decided that would be a part of my journey.
Leading up to that moment I thought agriculture only meant farming. As I went to college, I started to understand what it meant to be engaged in other agricultural pursuits. I loved being an ag teacher and FFA advisor. I learned how huge agriculture is and how valuable leadership is.
I treasured the opportunity to work with young people and to watch them succeed in all areas of life. Not everyone likes school but for many students ag class and FFA activities are a highlight. I appreciated both the 4.0 students and the 1.4 students. It was amazing to see kids learning from each other and seeing agriculture unify a group of people. To me it didn’t matter if they wanted to be a mechanic or a mechanical engineer, to own a farm or to work on a farm, to design a truck or to drive a truck. I just hoped that they would work hard, earn an honest living and be the best that they could be at whatever they did.
While teaching I could not get rid of that "farming feeling" in the sandbox and that itch to drive equipment. So, from scratch I started on my own, one barn and one land parcel at a time. That kept my dream alive while working day and night.
Then someone suggested the idea of starting a farm transition business. That instantly made sense just as being an ag teacher had years earlier. Over the past 23 years I have had the pleasure of working with farm families across the Midwest that never believed in begging while acquiring honest wealth that has provided for their families. Many of them live frugally while giving generously to charities and those in need. Farmers whose word was more valuable than any document that could be signed.
My own farming journey still has not turned out the way I thought it would, but with all the guts and determination I could muster I accepted the challenges and discomforts of agriculture life. Today I have the great joy of helping other families transition their farms while I get to farm myself.
I still love seeing the crops grow from spring to fall, just as I had imagined in the sandbox 50 years ago. I can’t imagine anything else I would rather do. I believe that American agriculture can and will hold true to the best traditions of American life and I will continue to exert an influence in my home and community that will stand solid in my part in that inspiring task. The good news is that I know I am not alone.
May God bless agriculture and those involved in it.
Myron Friesen is the co-owner of Farm Financial Strategies Inc. in Osage, Iowa. He can be contacted at 866-524-3636 or firstname.lastname@example.org.