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Editor’s Note: A long, confident, look ahead

On the theory that winter is always the right time for such things, why not spend half an hour this week making a list of the machinery your family had on the farm 25 years ago compared to the inventory you’ve got today.

You could even make your list over supper some night when your parents or children are over, or when your brothers and sisters are together… whatever fits your circumstances.

And yes, I realize it’s a list that has no end of potential detours, conversational and otherwise. Besides, it isn’t just that you’re farming more acres today, or that new technologies are available, but also that the jobs you’re doing are different too. You’ve got a different crop mix — quite likely a different livestock-crop mix too — and you’re doing less tillage but spraying more, etc., etc.

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Tom Button
Tom Button
Tom Button

Still, go ahead and make that quick inventory list of what was in your shed in 1994 versus what’s there today, despite the caveats and qualifications.

Partly, it’s worth doing because of its shock value. Or maybe I should say shock values.

If there’s been this much change (really, transformation might be the better word) in the last 25 years, how much more will there be in the next 25?

If you look back at some of 1994’s machinery and think it was pretty primitive — really just a bunch of nuts and bolts threaded together — how much more primitive will today’s machinery look when we’re looking back from 2044?

One of the helpful articles in our Feb. 12, 2019 issue of Country Guide is titled ‘Service, Please’. I don’t often single out individual stories partly because I don’t want to take attention away from the others, but really, the trend discussed in this story does enable the others, including ‘Dream Team’, and I can’t recommend it strongly enough.

‘Service, Please’ really is witness to the fact that there are changes in today’s agriculture that are even more sweeping than the changes in what’s parked behind your shed doors.

Those bigger changes are the changes that have gone on in the farmer’s head.

The adoption of technology in our machinery can’t compare to the professionalization that has been adopted by our farmers, which also has this advantage. When it comes to technology, farmers excel at putting other people’s discoveries to work. When it comes the farmers’ professionalization, by contrast, they’re in control of the process from concept through to end product.

For proof, read ‘Taking the Bull by the Horns’, (although really, you could find all the examples you need by leafing through a stack of Guide back issues).

Plus there is this other advantage too. Farmers have professionalized, but they have maintained their values while doing it. Who will read the Dream Team story of the Sulzles and the Bruggencates, or the Bull by the Horns story of the Andersons and not sense this, and not only wish them well but also resolve to encourage that kind of spirit when you find it in others as well.

Are we getting it right? Let me know at [email protected].

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Tom Button

Tom Button is editor of Country Guide magazine.

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