Oklahoma’s farmers and ranchers have faced tough times before, and Oklahoma agriculture will continue to work toward better days as a single, united community.
Oklahoma farmers and ranchers are not strangers to hardship. Life on the farm has nearly always been accompanied by adversity.
When the world changed seemingly overnight as fear over the COVID-19 pandemic grew, farmers and ranchers carried on with their generations-long task of producing healthy, affordable and abundant food and fiber.
As consumers both urban and rural faced uncertainty and bare shelves every time they shopped for groceries, uncertainty mounted for farmers and ranchers well beyond the usual risks that come with agriculture.
Already facing low commodity and livestock prices and reeling from several years of weather extremes, Oklahoma’s agriculture community was already working through challenges and struggles.
The COVID-19 outbreak piled on even more worries.
Facing challenge after challenge in rural Oklahoma, it is easy to feel overwhelmed and hopeless. Yet it is unprecedented times like these when the heart of our rural communities have the chance to shine.
Farm Bureau members are known for using their voice to produce solutions through state and federal policy. Thanks in part to the urging of Farm Bureau members across the country, national leaders recognized the importance of federal programs for the agriculture sector including the Paycheck Protection Program and the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program that brought welcome relief to America’s agricultural producers.
But good policy is not always enough. Though farmers and ranchers are known for being tough and resilient, these are difficult and unprecedented days.
Farm Bureau members can – and must – use those same voices throughout farm country to speak words of hope and encouragement. Whether your neighbor across the pasture, your family member down the road or your Farm Bureau friend across the state, reach out to your loved ones and ask them how they are doing. A quick conversation can make an important difference.
It is important not to underestimate the impact of a simple phone call to a fellow farmer or rancher you have not seen in a while. Nor should we discount the importance of taking the time to visit with someone who might be on your mind as our world navigates unprecedented changes.
In agriculture, we like to talk about cattle, weather, equipment and prices. However, people are the core of our industry. We feed people. We clothe people. We help people. When agriculture faces tough circumstances, it is important to focus on each other – on the people who make our industry and our rural communities great.
Getting through these times takes a focused effort. Oklahomans have known for generations that surviving – and even thriving – through challenges does not happen by accident or sheer luck. It takes effort to step out of our normal routines to take time and connect with our friends, neighbors and acquaintances for whom a simple conversation could change everything.
We all need each other to get through these challenging times. While no one knows what the future holds, the one thing we must be able to count on is one another. Farm country will get through this crisis – just as it has every other time – but it is going to take all of us working together to care for our friends and neighbors in the agricultural community.