The Modern Day Farmer
September 30, 2019
Providing food for others has always required heroic efforts. To ensure their families’ survival, our early ancestors had to battle the elements, predators and human competitors to find food and protect their food sources.
Like today, early farmers didn’t know what threats lay ahead, so they had to learn to anticipate and solve problems. By working and protecting their small plot of land, they could keep their families well-fed and create a more stable life.
The hardest-working farmers who planned ahead – those who adopted new tools and techniques to protect their land, crops and animals – were able to set something aside for their family’s future. And they thrived. When they could, they shared extra food, tools and knowledge.
Today, the demands on farmers have grown exponentially – along with the size of farming operations and the sophistication of their tools. Now farmers must feed a global marketplace. Despite incredible advances, their challenges are far more complex. Farmers today still need grit, foresight and good judgment. But now they also need to adopt sustainable farming practices, embrace digital technologies and operate profitably to ensure their survival in the face of challenging economics, climate change and rising consumer demands for claims-based food, including traceability.
Extreme weather, finite natural resources and an increasingly complex global marketplace make farming more unpredictable than ever. To sustain their livelihoods and feed the world, farmers must work even harder to protect the land.
And while farmers are the first stewards of the land, they face growing environmental scrutiny from consumers, who want assurances that their food was produced ethically and responsibly. To position themselves for the future, successful farmers must be vigilant about every aspect of production – ensuring the welfare of animals, preserving soil nutrients, limiting water runoff and so much more.
From agricultural drones that analyze soil moisture to predictive planting models, the tools and technologies used by modern farmers are remarkably sophisticated. Advanced technologies have dramatically increased yields with fewer resources and allowed farmers to plan and predict with far greater certainty than ever imagined.
The precision, speed and relevancy of new data and technologies will continue to help farmers make better, faster and more informed decisions to feed a hungry world – and to protect the environment at the same time. Those who embrace new technologies and adapt to the changing environment and marketplace stand to benefit the most.
Yesterday’s subsistence farm won’t sustain today’s farm family – or feed the nearly 8 billion hungry people on this Earth. To achieve efficiencies of scale, many farmers command massive operations and acreage – by necessity. Others manage smaller farms and need to make the most of their resources. Regardless of farm size, farmers work diligently to get the highest level of production, manage costs, maximize returns and plan ahead, just like any other business. Except the business of farming is critical to our way of life.
Farmers, like any other business owner, need to operate profitably to sustain themselves for the long term.
Balance of All Three
Sustainability, technology and performance. The central tenets of farming today are unequivocal. By adopting sustainable practices, embracing new tools and technologies and driving performance, farmers will not only sustain their own livelihoods and those of future generations – they will care for our land and ensure a well-nourished world.
That makes farmers more than stewards of the land. They are the protectors of our future.