American agriculture – we NEED to come together to protect our livelihoods, share our stories, and educate. Because someone is doing it for us, and they are getting it all wrong.
I’m Ellyn. A farm wife and farmer from south central Minnesota. According to a recent opinion piece published by the New York Times, I and my family are getting paid to kill our planet simply because we farm. So let me preface with this – we are the faces of American agriculture. REAL people and REAL families that are not here to harm you, or for goodness sakes certainly not trying to kill you. And I can promise you that we are sure as heck not getting paid to do so.
On our sixth generation Minnesota farm, we work hard using no-till and cover cropping practices to raise corn, soybeans, and beef cattle to provide food, fuel, fiber, and so much more for your family and ours. Along with my husband, Jacob, my sister-in-law, Jessica, her husband, Ben, and their two kiddos, we own and operate our farm. We are REAL people putting in the literal blood, sweat, and tears to continue the legacy of our family farm. All while hardly getting paid to do so because the profit margins are incredibly small in agriculture right now. If we make a profit on the farm, that money goes right back into our business. We don’t take any income out for our two families – in fact, right now all four of us work full-time jobs off the farm in order to provide for our own families.
We are producers, but also consumers that eat the same exact foods you shop for in the grocery stores or markets. We are honest, hardworking, and faithful, and let me tell you, we absolutely love to talk about what we do because we CARE about, and take pride in, the land and animals we steward.
Agriculture is our livelihood. We don’t work 16–20-hour days during our busy seasons in the spring and fall to make sure that seed gets in the ground or that plant is harvested timely just because it’s fun. We don’t wake up every two hours throughout the night and go out to the barn in subzero temperatures while our cows are calving to make sure they’re comfortable just for giggles. And we don’t hug our dairy cows on the last day we milk them with a broken heart because we want to see them leave. We do all of these things, plus SO much more because we love the land. We love our animals. And we absolutely LOVE our way of life.
The NY Times opinion piece was just that – an opinion. They did not use factual information, and most certainly did not tell the truth. AG IS NOT THE PROBLEM. I could go into incredible detail debunking each piece of information they shared, but a couple friends of mine (Natalie at @nataliekovarik and Tara at @newmexicomilkmaid) on Instagram have done an amazing job on behalf of the ag industry responding with a factual rebuttal. Watch Part 1 at this link and Part 2 here. Part 3 is coming soon, so stay tuned! If you watch anything today, please let it be these videos.
American agriculture has come an incredibly long way in the past 50, 25, 10, heck even 5 years. We are constantly learning and evolving based on scientific research and new technology that helps make our farm more efficient and environmentally friendly (because I’ll let you in on a little secret, we live on this planet too and WE CARE about protecting and preserving it). On a daily basis, we work with professionals and experts in all the specific areas of farming – agronomists, soil scientists, cattle nutritionists, marketers and brokers, accountants, mechanics, and so many more.
I invite you to our Minnesota farm. We would love to have you! We love to talk about what we do and show people our way of life, because we think it’s pretty dang cool. We do it because we love it. If you have any questions at all about agriculture, please please please, TALK TO A REAL FARMER OR RANCHER. Don’t get your information from Google, the news, an opinion post, social media, celebrities, and definitely not anyone thousands of miles away from a farm. Because you know what? They’re going to tell you what they want you to hear, not the truth about what we really do in agriculture.
We are all allowed our own thoughts, opinions, and feelings – that’s the incredible thing about being humans! But please, do not attack a certain way of life if you haven’t taken the time to get to know the people living it, if you aren’t willing to understand that livelihood, or if you won’t even engage in respectful conversation.
Trust that we are the experts in our field. We are trained. We are educated. And we are continuously learning new ways to take care of the land and animals, which then helps to take care of our planet. And my goodness, we just really love what we do. An industry that feeds you is an industry worth fighting for. We are working hard to make this world a better place, and I’ll be damned if I let someone else tell our story.
Rooted in ag and led by faith,