Farmers running and winning the amazing race

By Mike Barnett 

My blogging partner Gene Hall and I have gained a reputation as “the angry dudes from Texas.”

We’re not afraid to address controversial issues in Texas Agriculture Talks. We tangle sometimes with those with whom we disagree. But angry? I prefer to call it edgy. Then again I’m looking at it from this side of the fence.

Today, however—for this blog at least—I’m going to mellow out. Not one angry word will slip from this keyboard.

I’m inspired by a show I saw on television the other night, The Amazing Race. I don’t know if you’ve seen the show on CBS, where teams square off in a sprint around the world and encounter all sorts of challenges and obstacles along the way. It’s quite entertaining. I’m a big fan.

As I watched the premier of the new season Sunday night, something came to mind.

Farmers and ranchers are in an amazing race. Only they’re not matching each other. They’re in a never-ending marathon with hunger. The stakes are high. The prize for winning is a well-fed world. The price for failure is famine and starvation. The race started at the dawn of civilization when the first farmer poked a hole in the ground and planted a seed. Sometimes the farmer runs second  in this ultimate contest because of war, drought, disease and other factors beyond his control. But he’s never far behind.

Long ago, man planted enough to feed himself and his family. As techniques improved, farmers grew enough for their family and a bit to trade for other goods. Look at how today’s modern farmer has stretched his lead. Thanks to advances in technology, one farmer today provides for 129 people. In 1960, he fed only 25.

And he does it against great odds. He runs against his friend—Mother Nature—who provides him sun and rain and the earth’s rich soil. But she’s a fickle adversary who can turn on a dime and stop the farmer cold in his tracks with drought, freezes and other perils. It’s a good natured rivalry until Mother Nature turns mean. Then it becomes a grueling match.

The farmer runs this endless race not so much for monetary award or status, but for his love of the land, his way of life and to fulfill his need as a provider—not only for his family, but for all mankind.

Yes, there are obstacles. There are those who stand in his way. There are those who throw roadblocks in his path. There are those who want him to lose. But I’m not going to talk about them. I promised to be mellow—for this post, at least.

Today, I’m recognizing the dedication and professionalism of the farmers and ranchers who are winning the race to feed America and the world.

It is truly amazing. Thank you all.

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4 Responses to “Farmers running and winning The Amazing Race”

  1. Marcia Bales says:

    Mellow Mike, thanks for the nice post to applaud the efforts of all farmers and ranchers who strive to feed and cloth the world. Problems and controversies aside, that really is the bottom line to which we all should remain grounded.

  2. John Schlageck says:


    You and your ole pardner Gene are what we call up here in Kansas….Good.

    I always enjoy both of your blogs. I especially liked your last one on the "Amazing race."

    I initally wasn’t going to blog because there were several others on staff with more specialized expertise who were given the task. Turns, out they couldn’t find a pen on a regular basis, so they voluteered the old war horse.

    Actually, I will enjoy it. There’s always so much to write about and this will afford another venue and a bit more flexibility and fun.

    Keep up the good work and tell Gene hello.


  3. Mellow Mike. I like that nickname. Appreciate the comment, Marcia! What you say is so true.

    John, you sure got the "old" right when referring to Gene. 😉

    Me and you–we’re still pups!

    Thanks for the compliment.

    Readers, John wtites for the Kansas Farm Bureau blog, At The Fence. Check out his work.

  4. I don’t get my food from farmers, I get it from the grocery store! Okay, bad joke. You know, you are so right. It is amazing to see how much more food farms and farmers have produced in the last 10-20 years, and it is amazing to see how much demand will be on the future with population growth. Technology has been helpful, but as always thank goodness farmers are hard workers!

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