We all know people who seem to constantly tell us what to do. It feels like they always have to be right. For most of us, persons who have to have their way grate on us. We find ourselves avoiding them and questioning ourselves, as well as becoming angry at their bossy manner. This sounds like a personal rant, but it's not. It's a problem for which a number of Farm and Ranch Life readers have sought my advice.
Every community, whether rural or urban, has residents who are the cultural backbone of their communities. Cultural leaders are probably more apparent in rural communities where geographical isolation occurs, but there is common agreement in nearly all communities about who "sets the tone" of their social environment. Culture has many meanings. The Webster's Unabridged Dictionary definition is appropriate for this article: "the behaviors and beliefs characteristic of a particular social, ethnic or age group."
Most agricultural producers view farming as a noble and essential occupation and a profoundly spiritual way of life. Having to cease farming because of aging, economic difficulties or other unwanted circumstances is difficult for most farmers and other family members, such as spouses and children. People involved in farming find this transition to a new phase of life harder to undertake than many people in other careers. That's partly because farming usually isn't just a career — it's a calling.
Beginning in September, I will decrease my weekly columns to monthly columns. This change is coming about so that I can help implement regional Farm and Ranch Stress Assistance Network centers in four parts of the U.S. — the Northeast, the Southeast, the Midwest and the West — that were approved as part of the 2018 Farm Bill.
Bison furnish highly nutritious meat that is naturally lower in fat than most animals consumed by Americans who enjoy eating meat. How this foraging animal converts plants that humans don't eat into meat, and its esteemed regard among Native Americans, enhances the appeal of bison meat.
According to a 2018 report of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, at least 50 million Americans like to feed birds. A 2016 survey by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service indicated that 45 million U.S. residents like to watch birds around their homes and in the wild. Watching birds and feeding birds are popular activities for people of all ages. Bird-watching and bird-feeding aren't necessarily the same, even though they have some commonalities, such as enjoying birds.
Nearly every real farmer carries a pliers as well as a pocket knife that possesses two or more keenly sharpened blades and maybe has a screw-driver among its essential tools. Swiss Army knives aren't the only option with a screwdriver; many farmers have pocket knives with a broken blade that they use as a screwdriver. Farmers usually also carry a mobile phone ever since cellular phones became readily transportable, and for good reason: They can call for assistance and check with people and websites as needed. The cell phone can be a life-saving tool.
Farmers everywhere are more stressed these days financially and personally than at any time since the Farm Crisis of the 1980s, say people I have conferred with at community meetings and conferences and in discussions online and by telephone. Recent price inclines in some commodities generate hope but also uncertainty as speculators explore a broad set of unknowns.
The 2019 crop year is forcing many agricultural producers everywhere in the U.S. to deal with unusually difficult and uncontrollable issues that are wreaking havoc on their psychological and financial well-being. Atypical weather and frequent changes in agricultural trade policies are just two of the factors which contribute to the uncertainty that farmers face. Longer-term world-wide factors also contribute to the instability of U.S. farm markets, including, but are not limited to: • Global overproduction of key food items such as wheat and dairy products.
In January 2018 every American who is defined as a farmer by the IRS was asked to complete the 2017 Census of Agriculture. Conducted every five years, the Census included anyone who earned more than a $1,000 from farming activities in 2017, such as raising crops and/or livestock, or from non-farming alternatives such as the Conservation Reserve Program.