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Celebrating National Farmer's Day

A Celebration of National Farmer’s Day

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In celebration of National Farmer’s Day this year, AgAmerica reached out to farmers and ranchers from across the nation to share their stories—and they responded with inspirational stories of grit, dedication, and perseverance. Getting to know these farmers and their stories has reminded us yet again of their admirable character and dedication to provide for the world and share what agriculture means to them.

From cattle ranchers to row crop farmers, American farmers overcome some of the greatest hardships to provide for families around the world. While each farmer is unique, there are many similarities amongst them that attest to the resilient spirit of the American Farmer. Some values that were echoed throughout these stories include:

  • The importance of family;
  • The overwhelming support of the agricultural community;
  • The enduring dedication of the American Farmer; and
  • The impact of advocacy on the future of agriculture.
The stories behind American agriculture.

Defining a Family Legacy

A central theme amongst our nation’s farmers is the importance of family and generational legacy. Whether they’re embarking on their family’s newfound agricultural legacy or carrying on the legacy of their multigenerational operation, American farmers and ranchers cherish the time spent working and learning alongside their families. Through their everyday actions, the following farmers demonstrate the true meaning of carrying on a family legacy.

Natalie Kovarik holding her son in front of cattle on her Nebraska cattle ranch

NATALIE KOVARIK

Natalie Kovarik is a fourth-generation cattle rancher passionate about carrying on her family’s rich agricultural legacy by passing it down to her own children. As such, she cherishes the moments spent working alongside her husband and children. It is her deeply rooted passion for agriculture that inspires her to raise her children in this way of life while also advocating for it in the community.

Upon reflecting on the role that family plays in her story, Natalie expressed, “Our ranch was very much a family business, as most farms and ranches are, and looking back I feel extremely blessed for the childhood I was afforded. It’s something I am actively trying hard to give my children; an upbringing that provides equal amount of opportunities to teach hard work, commitment, and responsibility as it does to allow for rest, freedom and fun.”

Natalie Kovarik holding her son in front of cattle on her Nebraska cattle ranch
Andrew and Emily Reuschel with their children on their Illinois corn and soybean operation

ANDREW & EMILY REUSCHEL

Andrew and Emily Reuschel support their family’s sixth-generation corn and soybean operation. While both are passionate about agriculture, they came to know this passion through different journeys. While Andrew was born into a farming family with a passion for agriculture, Emily discovered her passion after being introduced to this lifestyle by Andrew. Andrew shared, “Most of my memories involve being connected to the land, agriculture, or my dad in some way.”

Today, Andrew cherishes the moments spent with his own children on their farm. After taking his son on the tractor for the first time, he shared, “I was overcome with emotion as I realized it was my turn to pass along the memories and experience of farming to the next generation.” Like so many farm families, Andrew and Emily are helping shape the future of agriculture by raising the next generation of farmers and ranchers.

Andrew and Emily Reuschel with their children on their Illinois corn and soybean operation

The Strong Bonds within the Agricultural Community

A common thread in many of these stories is the endearing way in which the community of agriculture supports one another. In times of need, there is always someone there to lend a helping hand. It is in this wholesome generosity and selflessness that our nation’s farmers and ranchers come together to ensure that food gets to our tables.

Wesley and Denise Skelton alongside their four children in front of cattle on their Tennessee cattle ranch

Wesley and Denise Skelton

Wesley and Denise Skelton run a multigenerational cattle operation that is operated entirely by family members. Both Wesley and Denise come from families with rich agricultural legacies dating back to the early twentieth century. Upon reflecting on their experience thus far, they shared, “Even though every other farmer around us is as busy as we are, I don’t know of a time that we needed help and didn’t have someone rushing to help. That kind of generosity is one of the things that I love about being a part of an agriculture community.”

Wesley and Denise Skelton alongside their four children in front of cattle on their Tennessee cattle ranch
Amy Rhodes standing in front of brown cattle on her Wyoming cattle ranch

Amy Rhodes

In a leap of faith, Amy and her husband left their corporate jobs in Southern California for ranching. Born out of a desire to raise their children in the community of agriculture, they began a ranch in Wyoming to immerse their children in this newfound way of life. Although they started from square one, nearby ranch families showed them the ropes by offering support and training. Upon reflecting on one such experience, Amy shared, “Our first branding on the ranch, we had a family with a ranching background ask if they could come help us. We were so grateful.” Through the time spent working alongside their neighbors, Amy and her husband learned that there isn’t one right way to do things. Instead, they learned the value of trailblazing their own paths and making their own decisions with confidence.

Amy Rhodes standing in front of brown cattle on her Wyoming cattle ranch

Enduring Dedication

American farmers face countless challenges outside of their control. Whether it be variable commodity prices, labor shortages, or weather disasters, they demonstrate their ability to carry on, time and time again. Their passion for preserving the agricultural way of life they hold so dearly is what propels them to forge on even in the face of these hardships.

Purpose Despite Adversity

A unifying characteristic of American farmers and ranchers is that they are driven by a genuine and sincere purpose. Without this purpose, it would be easy to choose another career path with less adversity and more predictability. Leon Etchepare, a California tree nut grower, stated this purpose well: “We as farmers wake up every day to defy many odds to do our best to create food for the local, national, and global consumers.” Like Leon, many farmers are driven by the knowledge that what they do has a fundamental, life-sustaining purpose—feeding people. Unlike other career paths, farming has a tangible effect on people because it is necessary for our survival.

Molly Anderson sitting on her Michigan family dairy farm

Molly Andersen

Molly Andersen is a young dairy farmer, who, after graduating from college, returned to revive her family’s dairy farm. Molly’s dedication to her family’s multigenerational legacy inspired her to see potential in the dairy that others overlooked. Despite the many challenges that Molly has encountered, she continues to persevere and look forward. She shared, “We do it for the love of the land, for the love of our animals, and for the love of our neighbors. We are willing to sacrifice a steady paycheck and a secure income so that our world can have the food and resources it needs to survive. We farm because it's in our blood, and it's in our hearts. We farm for love.”

Even when faced with difficulties, Molly’s passion for agriculture and carrying on her family's legacy is what keeps her going.

Molly Anderson sitting on her Michigan family dairy farm
Jordan Johnson standing alongside her husband while holding her child on their Oregon cattle ranch

Jordan Johnson

Jordan Johnson is a first-generation cattle rancher who demonstrates the passion and dedication needed to be an American farmer. Despite growing up in the city, she has wholeheartedly embraced this way of life and dedicated herself to fueling our nation.

A perfect example of this dedication took place during a cold and snowy day. After realizing that a calf was missing, Jordan ventured out into the snowstorm to find it—and she did not back down until she did. Upon reflecting on this experience, Jordan shared, “I always think how easy it would have been to give up. A lot of things like that come up in agriculture, but we keep fighting, persevering, and we don’t stop.”

Jordan Johnson standing alongside her husband while holding her child on their Oregon cattle ranch

Advocating for the Future of Agriculture

The work of farmers and ranchers often goes unnoticed, and many people do not have an accurate understanding of agriculture. Therefore, advocating for our nation’s farmers and ranchers is an essential part of a thriving future for American agriculture.

Misconceptions About Agriculture

Throughout the years farmers have faced challenges stemming from a general lack of agricultural knowledge by American consumers. While there are many contributing factors, the spread of misinformation is a driving force behind these misunderstandings. Fortunately, a rise of agricultural awareness is occurring. The increased use of social media within the agricultural community has made the disconnect between farmers and consumers even more apparent. As a result, there is a large community of American farmers and ranchers making a difference by sharing how our food is grown and the steps they are taking to protect our people, animals, and environment.

Legislation

Not only do misperceptions of agriculture affect public opinion, but they also impact national, state, and local legislation. Unfortunately, American farmers and ranchers must often deal with laws that negatively impact their operations and ability to provide food for our nation. As a result, the legacies of these farm families are often put at risk. In the words of California tree nut farmer Leon Etchepare, "Our family's legacy changes every time the government releases a new regulation or external factors influence agriculture." Regardless of the intentions of this type of legislation, it fails to consider the needs of the farmer. Therefore, it is important that the voices of American farmers and ranchers are heard and acknowledged in the legislative process because when barriers to agriculture are imposed, our national food security is at risk.

Jana McMurdie standing in front of mountains on her Utah cattle ranch

Jana McMurdie

Jana McMurdie’s passion for agriculture is rooted in her experience growing up on her family’s cattle ranch. Today, she runs that same ranch with her husband and three sons. Jana’s passion for agriculture propels her to share her story with others and shine a light on the important role of American farmers and ranchers. She shared, “I feel very strongly that people need to know where their food comes from and the process it takes. It’s our job to fight for agriculture so that our kids and future generations can have a future in ag as well.”

Jana McMurdie standing in front of mountains on her Utah cattle ranch
Agricultural content creator Michelle Martin standing in a field of green crops

Michelle Martin

Community members are also essential to the future of agriculture. Indeed, they have the power to voice their support for American farmers and change perceptions of agriculture for the better.

Michele Martin is an agricultural content creator who went from no experience in agriculture to fully immersing herself in the industry and dedicating herself to agricultural advocacy. After realizing that many people lack knowledge of the industry, she set out to change that. In her words, “I feel the people of ag have lost their voice, and I want to be the vehicle for them.” Today, she runs an agriculture magazine, television show, and social media channels, allowing her to amplify the voices and unique stories of American farmers and ranchers.

Agricultural content creator Michelle Martin standing in a field of green crops

AgAmerica Supports a Thriving Future for Our Nation’s Farmers and Ranchers

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Through their dedication to family, their communities, their operations, and advocacy, American farmers and ranchers are defining the future of American agriculture. Without their resilient spirit, agriculture would not be what it is today. In honor of this National Farmer's Day, please join us in celebrating the important members of our community. Watch We Are Agriculture to meet some of the farmers who fuel our nation.

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