Every year at planting time, farmers sow seeds of hope and optimism that this will be the year where everything falls into place: Cooperative weather, less worrisome pests and good prices that come together to yield a bountiful and profitable harvest. In the year 2020, the seeds of optimism and hope are needed more than ever.
Ongoing trade skirmishes, the coronavirus and another year of low commodity prices make it particularly difficult for farmers to cultivate hope and optimism in 2020. But the good news for all of us who like to eat is that farmers carry on. Just as the days are guaranteed to grow longer in the spring, farmers are guaranteed to start the engines of their tractors and put seed into the ground despite the obstacles.
We remember Democratic presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg caught a lot of flack when he said he could teach anybody to farm. If he were smart, Bloomberg would have used some of the millions spent on his campaign to hire a few good farmers to consult him. They could teach him how to overcome obstacles and still yield a successful harvest. Farmers can teach anyone how to run a successful campaign for president.
Successful farmers are good businessmen. They watch the markets, analyze the balance sheet and then decide what crops to plant. It’s a tough job that folks, like Michael Bloomberg, who don’t farm so often take for granted. One plus that did come out of the short-lived Bloomberg campaign is that it created a dialogue on just how difficult farming is.
The year ahead looks very challenging and could well be the most challenging year farmers have ever faced. Beaufort County, N.C., Extension Director Rod Gurganus has said there is always a prayer on the lips of farmers. If ever fervent prayer is needed, it is needed in 2020.