Karen Schwaller

This past spring, farmers everywhere went to work planting the nation’s next crop.

That doesn’t even sound like a big deal to most people. It happens every year.

But the big deal is, in the coronavirus days, grain producers forked out money they didn’t have to put in a crop they knew would give them no return on their investment. No return on investment means no guarantee that they can stay in business.

Other industry and commerce venues depend on agricultural products to keep them going, and with businesses shut down and the ag economy on its knees due to anorexic grain and livestock markets related to the coronavirus, it’s hard to know when or how it will end.

Agriculture parallels parenting in many ways. So much depends on agriculture — just as children depend on parents to keep them safe, warm and fed.

Following are the top ten ways that the role of farmers compares to the role of parenting, as we imagine our nation’s farmers being parents and caretakers of the world:

  1. Farmers give abundantly to everyone in their world family — even to people who don’t necessarily appreciate it. And even if they don’t have the money to give it.
  2. Even when their world family doesn’t appreciate what they give, they still plan on giving it every day, every year with no exceptions — unconditionally. Even if they have to sacrifice.
  3. When some in the world family roll their eyes and say what they do is unjust, farmers imagine that family with no food, fiber or fuel, and they dig their heels in and maintain the courage of their convictions. They have to remain strong and united.
  4. When farmers feel unappreciated because they see high prices for meat in the meat case, but only receive pennies per pound for that same meat, they often carry that feeling alone. But they keep producing grain to feed the animals which feed the world, because they see the bigger picture — the world family needs what they do.
  5. During tough years like coronavirus years, farmers as much as receive no payment for the important work they do in being caretakers for the world family. Some of the most important work in the world is done by volunteers — which is how farmers often feel.
  6. They sometimes would like to tell the world family those famous words that farm mothers have said for generations: that, in the larger sense, “…..if you don’t like it, supper’s over.” Trouble is, supper could be over for a long, long time.
  7. Just as parents keep the family going, farmers keep so many other people going in business, supplying the basic needs of the production manufacturing arena. In some way or another, most products have roots that take them back to the farm.
  8. Farmers give to the world without expecting thanks or appreciation for all the work it took to get that box of cereal, those eggs, that glass of milk or orange juice, that hamburger, that pork chop or that chicken nugget meal to their tables.
  9. Farmers are so busy working that sometimes they don’t take the time they should to sit down, so to speak, and answer the many questions of their world family. And so the world family continues to tap them on the shoulder or tug on their shirt tails and ask questions. But they don’t always like the honest answers.
  10. Farmers embrace their world family — with all of their differences, similarities, flaws and imperfections; because theirs are the faces behind the reason they do this in the first place. There would be no other reason to withstand all the roller coaster emotions of farming if it were not for the world family who needs what they do.

Some famous scholar in history once said, “When there is much food, there are many problems. When there is no food, there is only one problem.” We can apply that same thinking to families and parenting.

Let’s all turn up the volume on appreciating our world parents — our farmers — and encourage them in their labors.

Because what they do really is a big deal.

Karen Schwaller brings “Table Talk” to The Land from her home near Milford, Iowa. She can be reached at kschwaller@evertek.net.