Luke Bryan is a farmer. He is also the American Country Music Entertainer of the Year. And while he clearly has a passion for both occupations, there is also a deep devotion to his agriculture roots and the next generation of farmers and ranchers.
Bryan grew up the son of a Georgia farmer. He left home, in his words, to “tackle the music business.” “Because of my success in music, I have been able to acquire some farms,” he says.
I was one of two farm journalists in a Q&A session with the country music star that was sponsored by Fendt — we’ll get to that in a minute. The farm is where Bryan takes his boys fishing and hunting, but along the way, the country music star manages to raise corn and soybeans.
Honestly, I thought how much “farming” does he actually do? Seriously, what can a guy who sings in front of thousands know about everyday farm life? So, I tested him and asked, “What were the biggest obstacles you’ve had to overcome as a farmer?”
His response surprised me. It could’ve been any conversation with my farming friends and neighbors, but with a couple fresh perspectives:
He gets high costs. “Input prices are always changing. I’m out here running 12 tour buses, and if diesel prices are really, really high, it changes our bottom line,” Bryan explains. “It’s no different than a farmer out there having to operate with high diesel prices.” Interesting. Often, I’m so in my world of agriculture, I don’t think that it affects others. Unfortunately for Bryan, he sees the ramifications of high input costs on both fronts — farming and music.
He gets the ag global marketplace. “I remember my dad just, you know, as being an American farmer,” Bryan says. “Now farming is more like a global market.” He noted conversations with his father about crop conditions in Brazil and how farming practices and crops grown around the world affect prices. “It is a wider economy of farming,” Bryan says.
He gets the weather. “It’s either too wet, or it’s too dry,” he says. All of which can help or hurt a crop, and according to Bryan, ultimately affect price and the farm’s profitability. He adds that he and fellow country music star Blake Shelton often squabble about who received more rain at their farm — typical farmer banter.
He gets tractor technology. For Bryan, farming all starts with a reliable tractor. His is a Fendt 724 Gen 6. “When I left Georgia, I was pretty much driving basic tractors that you better learn how to plant a straight row in,” he says. “If you can’t plant a straight row in this tractor, then you got some issues in farming.” Bryan points to the fact that tractors, like Fendt’s, help him farm smarter with technology that allows him to be more aware of fuel efficiency.
He gets the importance of family. Bryan asks his dad for advice. Whether it is to check in on a tropical storm or hurricane threat in south Georgia or to talk over international markets, “I’m calling my dad.”
He gets farm values. “The beauty of farm work is that it does instill a lot of values,” Bryan shares. “It teaches you how to work hard.” He says he takes his boys on the tractor to mow fields and harvest crops. And here is where I truly believe Bryan understands farming and its impact on the next generation:
“If I get my children, and there’s a 15-acre field that we need to go out there and till up and get ready for planting, when we’re done tilling up the 15 acres, my children can look back and go, ‘You know what? We just did that, and we put in a great day’s work and it was really, really satisfying and gratifying.’ It teaches you the only way things get done is to go out there and make it get done.” Feel free to insert proverbial mic drop here.
But Bryan is not only talking to the media, he is reaching out to farmers and ranchers.
Connecting with farmers
This year, Bryan partnered with Fendt to produce 25 episodes of the Rise Before Sunrise video series, which has the country music singer inside the cab of his new Fendt 724 Gen 6 tractor. The videos are published on Fendt’s YouTube account Sundays and Wednesdays at 6 a.m. Eastern time in what the company calls a “a nod to up-and-at-it farmers.” The series runs all summer long.
Bryan truly has a passion for both music and farming. Still, it is those little moments when he talks about family and the future of his farm, his boys, that make him seem like just a neighbor down the road, doing what they do — building up our next generation of farmers and ranchers.
Luke Bryan simply gets rural America’s values, work ethic and passion.