Reflections from the Combine
By Mike Jaspers, South Dakota Secretary of Agriculture
Sometimes I find myself asking, “What did I get myself into?” The question usually comes at 2 AM when I’m dragging myself out of bed to check the cows who are ready to give birth or when the fall rains finally dissipate, the ground dries out and we can finally get into the field to harvest, only to find the combine just decided to break down. Farming and ranching is not for the faint of heart. It requires long hours and hard work. Invariably, you’re always at the mercy of unpredictable weather, up and down markets and the threat of disease.
So what gets me out of bed to check cows in February or wrenching on a broken, dusty combine? People. Only 2% of Americans feed the 100%. This is one fact that keeps many of South Dakota’s 47,000 farmers and ranchers going year after year; simply the thought that we are feeding our neighbors. We also generate billions of dollars for the South Dakota economy each year, putting money back into our communities and our state— helping them thrive.
But it’s not just the dollars and cents that keep farms and ranches in families for generation after generation, like mine. It’s the passion we have for our land and livestock. It’s stewardship; leaving things better than the way we found them. It’s the family bond we have nurtured, working side by side, day in and day out, toward a common goal. It’s the farming community that surrounds us, helping one another in times of need.
So while another crop season comes to a close, I would like to thank every farmer for their hard work and dedication to provide for our state, our nation, and our world. And I’d like to encourage everyone that eats, wears clothes, and drives cars that use biofuel to take a minute to thank South Dakota’s farmers and ranchers.