I am not a farmer. I am businesswoman who helps clients with financial planning. To be honest, before I began my more than 23-year relationship with New York Farm Bureau and its Foundation for Agricultural Education, I never thought that much about farm life or where my food came from. I suppose I thought being a farmer would be a nice, stress-free way to live. My days would be spent playing with cute animals, picking my own vegetables, breathing in fresh air, and happy to be outside in the sun. However, today, I can honestly say that understanding the economy, advising on investments, and being responsible for people’s life savings, financial hopes and dreams is nothing compared to the stress that comes with the myriad of challenges facing farmers and the agricultural industry.
What bothers me is knowing that the thoughts and beliefs I used to have are still the thoughts of so much of the non-ag community. I think maybe it is the certainty that we have come to expect from our food supply, like turning on the light switch and having light, that is leading to the widening gap between the ag and non-ag worlds. A quote from my favorite book, The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein reads, “The sun rises every day. What is to love? Lock the sun in a box. Force the sun to overcome adversity in order to rise. Then we will cheer!” That always resonates with me for things we take as expected without considering what it would be like to try to live without it. If we assume our families’ food is as certain and effortless as the sun rising, we are mistaken.
Living most of my days outside of the agricultural community, I know that much needs to be done to educate people about farming and how food makes it from the farm to the table. I think that with awareness, knowledge and understanding, we will all benefit. If we educate people as to the challenges and importance of farming in America, I believe we all are better served. Between the hard and endless work of farming itself, and the various unpredictable forces that determine success or failure, the government rules and regulations that stretch my ability to comprehend, and the virtually oblivious way people take their food for granted, I am so grateful that I have been given the chance to grow my perspective and potentially give others this same gift of knowledge. That is why I am proud to support New York Farm Bureau Foundation for Agricultural Education and honored to serve on its Board.
By Melissa Mirabile, Foundation Board Member