What is it about movies that focus on people wanting to get out of the rat race of city life to seek the slower pace in the country?
Time and again, Hollywood has focused on the slower pace being what the urban dweller seeks, yet there are plenty of negative references towards the states located in the middle of the U.S. We are not just "fly-over states;" we offer real, true value to our country and world.
I'm not sure I'd call farm life slower paced, but it certainly is a different lifestyle than living in the city. The ability to observe nature – from watching wildlife to seeing something grow – offers something for one's mental state. Farmers and ranchers have been environmentalists since before that term was fashionable.
However, there are many people who have heard that farming practices aren't good for the land.
How would you go about explaining what you do to take care of the land that you have been entrusted with? Perhaps sharing how many years you've farmed a particular piece of land? Many farms have been farmed for generations by the same family. That is a success story! You might share that your family has farmed some of your land for over 50 years or that 10 other land owners entrust your family to farm their land for them.
People are looking for the values that agriculture has ingrained surrounding legacy, longevity, success, hard work and family heritage. We, in rural America, need to do a better job sharing our values. A prime example of these issues was brought to the spotlight recently when the Department of Labor considered implementing restrictions that would impact kids working on farms. There are numerous examples where farm kids have been complemented on their "take charge" and "get it done" work ethic. As we approach the County Fair Season, many farm youth are demonstrating this work ethic in preparing their projects for 4-H.
If we don't share these stories, others will and put their spin on your reality. Those perceptions are not necessarily what you know to be true in your experience. So be proud of the great values you live each day. Be ready to share that story whenever the time and audience is right.