Every year, Farmer’s Union runs an essay contest open to FFA students from around the state. This year, the question posed was: “What is the farmer’s role in conservation?”
The prize for winning the essay contest was $1,000 for the student’s FFA chapter and a trip to Washington, D.C. with a member of their family, in the fall.
Grant Smude, a freshman FFA student at Pierz Healy High School, was named the winner.
“Grant wrote a 500 – 700 word essay and Glen Schmidt from the Farmer’s Union called recently to say he’d won,” said Pierz FFA adviser Pat Tax. She wanted to keep it a secret from Grant until the school’s awards banquet May 15.
“I had asked Glen to wait in telling Grant, because our banquet was Thursday night and I wanted Grant’s older brother, Ryley, our current FFA president, to present Grant with the news. Grant will be president next year,” said Tax.
Thursday, President of the Farmers Union, Doug Pederson, visited Healy High to present the award.
Grant, the son of Jim and Cara Smude of Pierz, grew up on the family farm, with three older brothers and a younger sister. He will indeed be the Pierz FFA president as he enters his sophomore year, taking on the responsibilities his brother, Ryley, will give up as he graduates.
Grant has been involved in FFA since he was in the eighth grade. He doesn’t intend to remain on the farm once he graduates, because his older brother, Cody (who was also FFA president at Healy High), has taken that role for the family farm, he said.
Although he said it’s a way off, he’s thinking about pursuing an education in medicine when the time comes.
Grant said his essay is the result of talking to his father and older brother, about what they did in the way of conservation on the family farm.
“So they had input,” Grant said. As for the results, he said he felt, “Pretty proud.”
Following is Smude’s winning essay:
The Farmer’s Role in
There is no one more closely connected to our soils and waterways than our farmers. Their role in protecting these and all the natural resources we have is vital. Farmers are the foundation upon which we survive. Likewise, the natural resources are the foundation for the farmer’s survival. Farmers practice conservation in many ways: tilling practices, water usage practices, reduction of waste practices and more. I feel confident that the farmer is protecting our resources for future generations and I feel that this is vital for our state’s continued prosperity.
Farmers learned from the Dust Bowl forward how important it is to protect the topsoil. We watch as farmers plant windbreaks of trees, utilize no-till or minimum-till methods on their croplands, plant cover crops to protect the new seed and the soil, rotate crops, and even use contour planting methods to help reduce erosion. Farmers understand that taking care of the soil results in greater yields
As the number of irrigation pivots increase and the reservoirs in our aquifers decrease, water availability becomes an increasingly important subject. For farmers, the quality and availability of water has long been a discussion area. Farmers have espoused the need to use low-drift irrigation nozzles and to use the pivots in a responsible manner — avoiding the mid-day sun and over-saturation. Farmers also are increasingly using fertilizers in a responsible manner by switching out chemicals to reduce resistance, spraying the chemicals only when necessary rather than as a basic practice and spraying with nozzles that reduce drift and only in weather-appropriate conditions. The farmers help our wetlands by working around them and plac-
ing land in protective practices.
Farmers use some of the
(Continued on Page 16C) most conservative methods in most everything they do. They must, in order to reap the slim profits that are available. By doing this, they practice reusing and recycling of resources on an every day basis. If you find a dairy farmer that is using a plate cooler to lower the temperature of the milk before entering the bulk tank, odds are that, that same farmer, is using the water pumped through the plate cooler to water his/her livestock also. This helps in reducing the electricity and the water supply.
Farmers are reusing livestock waste water and spreading solid waste in their fields as fertilizer. Farmers are very adept at fixing equipment in early breakdowns so as to minimize repair costs, another way to keep resources used at a minimum. Many farmers are reusing the oil from their machinery to heat buildings or take it to local coops and businesses for reuse. The twine that holds bales together are found in multiple places beyond the initial use. Silage bags are used over in different ways.
The farmer understands that reusing resources not only protects his/her checkbook but also helps future generations. There is no one more closely connected to resources that understand the need for protection of these resources than the farmer.
Our farmers are counted on to do more and more with fewer resources. Land areas that are available for crop raising are diminishing at increasing levels and farmers are asked to do more with less.
Indeed, with world population expected to near 9 billion by the year 2050, the farmer understands that the world’s food supply begins with him/her. For thousands of years, since agriculture was first developed in Ancient Mesopotamia, we have counted on the farmer to use conservative practices.
Farming is an incredibly difficult job — long hours and at the mercy of weather and markets for much of their profit margins. Still, there remain millions of farmers around the world that take up the challenge of providing food while taking care of the environment.
It is part of the job. It is what farmers do.