Life as a farmer can sometimes feel as if nothing really changes. Due to the nature of the work, you’ll find yourself going through the same patterns, year in, year out. You follow the same plans, troubleshoot the same problems, and worry about the same things that you always do.
However, perception is definitely not reality in this case. Your farm is continually progressing, as is the farming industry as a whole. Improvements are made, changes introduced, and new developments are adopted to make farming easier, simpler, and more productive than it has ever been before. If you ever feel like you’re in need of a reminder of just how much farming has progressed in recent years, then you only need to look within the word itself for reassurance…
P - Profit
Although there are undoubtedly financial challenges to working as a farmer, the statistics regarding average wages are rather heartening. Farmers earn a median salary of just over $66,000 per year, which compares favorably to the overall US median salary of just over $59,000 per year. Given that farming is often talked about as an industry that is struggling, it’s comforting to acknowledge that the figures suggest it is still a viable option for generating a decent income for a modern family.
R - Regulations
Regulations are a tricky subject; some farmers hate them, others see their necessity. However, it’s worth noting that compared to their global counterparts, US farmers have to deal with substantially fewer regulatory requirements. For example, China now finds it more cost-efficient to import pork from the US, which is due in no small part to the more relaxed regulations.
So while you may find obeying regulatory requirements a chore that dominates more of your time than you were like, it’s worth noting that the situation could be far worse. While there will always be problematic legislation aimed at farmers, the rules are generally more relaxed than you would find elsewhere in the world.
The major benefit of these lower regulations? More room for progress, innovation, and developments that can create more sustainable farming in the future. Without being hamstrung by as much red-tape as their overseas counterparts, US farmers are able to embrace the possibilities and explore options better than ever before.
O - Organic
Organic farming has progressed in leaps and bounds over the past 20 years, fuelled by an attitude change from the general population. Where organic produce was once seen as an unnecessary addition to general diets, organic produce has been accepted wholeheartedly by the general population and has proven to be enduringly popular.
As a result, if you want to convert your farm to an organic production method, there’s more appetite than ever for what you are able to produce. There’s also still plenty of need for non-organic produce so, ultimately, farmers now have more viable choices of business model to follow— and choice is always a good thing.
G - Growth
Most specifically, productivity growth, which has seen consistent rises over the past 50 years. Given that productivity is one of the key components of a successful farming operation, this growth is definitely a very good sign for the future.
It’s not just in terms of productivity that farming continues to grow, either. The contribution from farming to the US economy still accounts for 5.5% of gross domestic product (GDP) in the US, making it one of the largest single-industry contributors.
R - Resilience
If there is one industry that can rely on its resilience above all others, it’s farming. Farming is an industry that has been flourishing since the beginning of time, and there’s little evidence to suggest that mankind’s reliance on farming will change in the near future.
One of the key components of farming’s ability to remain essential even when other industries have floundered is the fact that farmers have always been willing to embrace changes and innovation. Rather than being overtaken by other models, or feeling threatened by more people choosing to grow their own produce, farmers can be secure in the knowledge that the system humanity has relied on for thousands of years isn’t going anywhere just yet.
E - Equipment
Farming equipment and machinery changes all the time, and the developments can happen faster than you think. With every new piece of technological equipment, farming becomes increasingly simple. The developments in farming and maintenance equipment over the past few decades have added automation options that would once have been seen as futuristic, but can prove to be incredible time-savers for the modern farmer.
As well as the equipment itself, maintenance has become easier than it has ever been. In the past, if your Honda tiller had a breakdown, you’d potentially have to wait for weeks to source the right replacement part and have it finished. Now, thanks to the wonders of the internet, you’re able to head to a designated Honda parts selection, select the right item, then have it delivered and installed in a fraction of the time such a process would formerly have taken.
SS - Self-Sufficiency
Thanks in no small part to the modern improvements in machinery, self-sufficiency is now an achievable goal for many farmers.
While the vast majority of farm owners farm for commercial profit, recent trends have proved that generating an income does not need to impede the ability of a farm to function self-sufficiently. Self-sufficiency has been prioritized, discussed, and perfected over the past two decades, and the internet has served to encourage more and more farmers to make the switch themselves.
Farming may sometimes feel like a static occupation, but as you can see from the above, change is constant, and the farming world is constantly evolving. By taking stock of where you are and what the farming industry has been able to achieve, you can look to continue to build on these strong foundations with your own farming endeavors.