By Julie Tomascik
Roll the dice. Sometimes you win. Sometimes you lose.
Farming and ranching is a gamble. Every year. And 2016 has been a mixed deck at best.
It flooded. Then the rain shut off. Drought now steadily creeps back in.
Anti-agriculture crowds continue to attack farmers and ranchers, while regulations are piled on. Increased costs for inspections, fees and certifications add to the growing list.
Commodity and livestock prices are down. Net farm income keeps dropping. And it’s forecast to be down 3 percent this year at $54.8 billion, the lowest since 2002.
Most would walk away. Throw in the towel and find a less stressful, more predictable career.
Yet you, farmers and ranchers, remain optimistic saying, “There’s always tomorrow.” Or “There’ll be another field, another crop.”
It’s a glass half-full mentality.
In an environment with lower commodity prices like today’s market, you test your creativity and ingenuity to cut input costs and develop more efficiency-driven strategies.
Equipment breaks down during harvest. You have to stop for repairs. And hope the delay isn’t long. But you see it as a chance to hammer out some frustration and exercise your engineering skills.
Always optimistic. There’s no challenge too great for farmers and ranchers. Even Texas-sized problems meet their match.
It’s easy to be cynical and pessimistic. To complain. To put blame on someone or something.
You could grumble over the growing to-do list. But you don’t. You put on your boots, pull down your cowboy hat and saddle up for a long day’s work.
That optimism creates opportunity.
Farmers and ranchers are masters of reframing a problem into potential—analyzing the situation, creating a plan and putting it into action.
Will 2016 improve some? Will 2017 be any better? Who knows?
What I do know is that you wouldn’t be in the business of farming and ranching if you weren’t eternal optimists.