Growing five generations of sustainability

By Colin and Laura Chopelas

Every week, it seems there is a new fad or breaking news story on television or the internet.  What happens in the rest of the world can instantly be news in America. The words of our politicians can move commodities or stock markets thousands of miles away.  Some of these issues can inadvertently undermine the hard work and long hours that every American farming family endures daily.

Often times, modern farming is perceived as something that takes everything from the land and puts nothing back, takes advantage of government policies that make investors wealthy at the cost of taxpayers and exploits natural resources with little remorse. The truth is farmers have the responsibility to be the caretakers of the land and natural resources. Our livelihood and the livelihoods of millions of other people involved in agricultural industries are dependent on farmers producing a quality commodity.  Sustaining and increasing production would not be possible without an in-depth understanding and respect of what the land is capable of giving and what must be returned in order to reach our goals year after year.

Water is an essential variable in producing our crops and, regardless of its source, must be scrupulously managed.  Agriculture is one of the largest consumers of water, but as farmers we strive to protect and utilize its value to the highest standards, as should all consumers of this precious resource.  Without proper water conservation efforts we would not be able to continuously grow the quality of crops we strive to produce.

Many aspects of farming have changed since our forefathers began farming our land.  Planting a field no longer takes days but a matter of hours.  In general, values of our crops have increased along with costs incurred to produce them, and all of our farms are subject to worldwide influences more so than ever before.  Some years it rains too much, or more commonly too little.  Markets can move favorably or unfavorably, and politicians knowingly, or not can leave producers exposed to risk without the safety net of a Farm Bill.  However, as my family has done year after year for over a hundred years, we will plant seed, pray for rain, manage our operation to the best of our ability and reap the benefits however they may come.  Our most important goal is growing the most sustainable and secure food supply in the world. We’ve been doing it for generations and hope to be here doing it for many more to come.

While the world continues to change, one family in South Texas has been adapting to these changes, all while continuously farming the same land for over 100 years.  We’re the fifth generation of the Adams family that arrived in the Coastal Bend in 1913 and began breaking ground in a time when life moved at a different speed.  As we farm some of the original farm land purchased 100 years ago we wonder if our ancestors would believe the changes that have been made since their time.  If that is not sustainable agriculture, we don’t know what is.  On November 7, 2013 our great, great grandparent’s farm, the Gust and Ida Adams Family Farm, was honored at the state capitol in Austin for continuously farming the same land for 100 years.

Colin and Laura Chopelas represent Texas Young Farmer & Rancher District 13.

One Response to “Growing five generations of sustainability”

  1. Don Sugarek says:

    Folks, you are good, very well written and tells it like it is.

    With 157 years under our belt as Texas Ag. producers in Texas, I am proud of the young producers that will carry our flag into the next generation.

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