Commentary: Farmers are the ultimate Survivor

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I was flipping channels last night and ran across the newest version of the Survivor-type shows.

You all know what I’m talking about—those series where a group of people are cast on an isolated island or the middle of the jungle with nothing but the clothes on their back.

This newest series is different than Survivor, whose new season kicks off fairly soon. Called Naked and Afraid, a man and woman are cast away, buck naked, in a remote location. That’s right. No clothes. It is a bit awkward…and challenging for the crew to film.

All the front view is blurred out, thank goodness. The rear view isn’t…more buns here than a hamburger cookout on the Fourth of July.

Anyway, all this got me thinking about a new Survivor series.

Participants are placed on a large tract of land.

They must procure seed, fertilizer and pesticides.

They must have the skills of an agronomist, businessman and mechanic.

They align with the soil. They play against Mother Nature.

She challenges them with drought. She hits them with flooding rains, high winds and hail.

If that’s not enough, she’ll send in hordes of insects. Or challenge the players with diseases and blights.

The players must juggle all the adversity and plant seed, tend the crop and bring it to harvest.

Then another challenge ensues. They must overcome environmentalists, government regulators and foreign governments to sell their crop at a profit.

The players may not come out on top every year, but they’re always eager to come back the next.

So who wins this drama, played out locally every day across the nation? You. Me. All of us who enjoy the security of three meals a day.

The series is called Farmer.

It doesn’t get a lot of publicity. Only a select few are qualified to play. And participants keep their clothes on.

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Bob Milligan    
St. Paul, MN  |  September, 16, 2013 at 08:36 AM

I agree and I disagree with this commentary. I certainly agree that farm owner/leader/managers possess great skill and are great decision-makers in handling challenges that arise. I do not like, however, the portrayal as survivors. A survivor mentality is one where the person or organization is reactive, often just working to hang on. Farmers need to have a proactive, opportunity focused, entrepreneurial mentality!! We need to seek to thrive, not just survive. I look forward to other reactions to this commentary.

massachusetts  |  September, 16, 2013 at 09:14 AM

I always wanted to host a survivor series on our dairy farm just to let people see what we had to go thru day after day. I believe we are survivors by being able to be proactive, being able to decipher information and look at new technologies and see if they will or will not benefit our operations. And we do this all while taking care of our daily chores, taking care of our families and often while maintaining an active role in our community. It is survival at times, but we are more than just survivors.

Southern Farmer    
Olar, SC  |  September, 16, 2013 at 12:09 PM

Great idea! The past several years on the dairy farm have felt like survivors. Margins are just barely large enough for beginning farmers to hold on. Then you get a disease in your baby calves that wipes out 1/5 of your "crop" for the year. A new bacteria test is initiated, and yours is way too high. So you spend thousands trying to solve the problem, and never do. Then there are the inevitable cows who succome to coloform, or do not breed back. A rainy year ruins your cash crop, spoils all your hay, and makes for poor quality silage. (which translates to milk loss this year) But farming gets in your blood, and it's great to have the whole family working together, every day, and we are producing a nutritious product. So we do what is necessary to stay competitive, and say, "Maybe next year".

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