Early this week, American Agriculturist‘s 2010 “crop” of Mid-Atlantic Master Farmers was honored at the 77th annual awards luncheon in Harrisburg, Pa. Watching each recipient accept their award, my thoughts flashed back over the last 25 years of outstanding persons attaining the honor achieved by only 0.9% of farmers.
Every single one (both men and women) has recognized the importance of their significant others – wife, husband, brothers, sisters, children, and, this year, employees. One cannot be a master of anything without help – especially farming. Today’s business is too complex, demands too much time, requires too many skills to be the master of all.
When the time came for this year’s recipients to say a few words, the men duly recognized their spouses. And when they were at a loss for words, their wives were right there – supportive and comforting.
While men most often reap the awards and honors of agriculture, rarely can great things be accomplished without a great back-up person. As the Editor, I’ve been privileged to get a glimpse at the behind-the-scenes life of each Master Farmer. While the women remained humble and soft-spoken, there was much evidence they had a huge hand in the success of their husbands – as breadwinners, business partners and family caretakers.
Life in the busy, productive, small business environment of agriculture is simply too demanding for one to succeed in business and civic leadership. That’s precisely why we encourage Master Farmer candidates to carefully consider what name(s) to put on the application.
It really does take a family – not just a savvy person – to farm successfully. Sometimes, the spouse is an active partner in the business and community. Sometimes, she’s the glue that binds the family together. Sometimes, she’s an off-farm bread winner and almost a silent partner in the eyes of others.
And, today, sometimes, that significant other can be a husband, not a wife.