Looking for some variety in life? You don’t have to look much further than agriculture.
What used to be a normal activity for just about every man and woman, farming is now handled by fewer Americans — yet the industry is growing as we produce more food to be sold at home and abroad. Science and technology are now lending farmers and producers a hand, helping them not only in the day-to-day management of crops and herds but also in planting, harvesting and raising.
Agriculture also offers an unusually high job stability, even here in Lamar County. Kim Cox spoke with Workforce Solutions Northeast Texas Business Development project manager Bart Spivey, who said the industry has just all of three jobs here in the past five years.
Even better, Spivey said the industry is on the verge of growth. And hundreds in the industry will be looking to retire over the next 10 years, which will make room for up-and-coming producers who look forward to the challenge of feeding America.
More Americans today are paying attention to what they’re eating, and farm-to-table has become a big marketing push for restaurants large and small. In neighborhoods throughout the nation, restaurateurs are contracting with local farmers to get locally grown produce to put on their tables.
Restaurants are looking for every edge they can get, and fresh fruits and vegetables have a different taste and greater nutrient content than their canned counterparts. Restaurants are betting that taste will keep customers coming back for more, and in the end, there’s benefits for all. The restaurant and the farmer make money and create jobs while the diner gets much healthier food than what they might make at home from a box or can.
When it comes to growing all these crops, having a game plan is the key. That’s what Rex West of West Farms, Land and Cattle told Tommy Culkin when he asked what beginning farmers should know.
West tells us it’s no easy task getting a farm going from scratch, but there is help available through the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Farm Service Agency.
And starting farmers need to know there’s one thing they can’t control — the weather. When it works in farmers’ favor, the weather is the bringer of all that is good. When it brings too much rain or too much sun, it can be tough for a farmer to rebound.
Once again, though, help is available. The federal government has ensured that help with the passage of the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018, otherwise known as the Farm Act.
Parts of the act are just now taking effect, but much of what was already working in the 2014 Farm Act was continued for 2019 through 2023. In all, the U.S. government is investing billions into American farming.
Grants and loans are available to help the agriculture industry as it grows to meet a growing demand. Feeder programs, like 4-H and FFA, expose younger generations to the benefits of a life in agriculture, and those programs prepare them to meet the challenges of the industry.
No matter how you look at it, agriculture remains a backbone of America with its amber waves of grain from sea to shining sea.