It’s safe to say we’ve been rocked in a ways never seen before. A single, invisible biological entity has ripped across all ag related industries, sectors, producers, businesses, and individuals. And while the pandemic hits the obvious, serious components, it certainly doesn’t take away from the tender, more subtle aspects of life it touches.
Fairs, shows, state FFA conventions, and other festivities to take place hang in the balance. We all participate in the once-in-a-lifetime scramble to retain some sense of normalcy and not lose hope. Sadly, as each week creeps by, the reality that our events set in the sacred stone of rural Americana lifestyle may simply be nonexistent in 2020 becomes sobering.
And what if it happens? A few well-intentioned words probably only fall flat and lackluster at a time like this. But nevertheless, there are certain truths that deserve being said.
The individuals who grace American agriculture are far more than showmen, far more than the futures market predictions, and far more than chosen identities. And … they are even worth more than that family farm, which may or may not make it to be passed down to the next generation. I know, that’s all far easier to say, and much harder to believe. But even with many things being taken from us, there are opportunities to uplift the farming community in our struggles. After all, the resilience and strength of rural communities, has survived the likes of wildfires, famines and floods by virtue of human support.
If there are no fairs, there will still be 4-H and FFA kids raising animals, tackling new challenges and skills with the support of one another. We can expect to see plenty of hogs, steers, and lambs filling freezers without the grandeur of arena lights or the cry of an auctioneer. We can expect to see project posters proudly on feedstore walls and displays.
If there are no shows, I still see dedicated stockmen and jockeys making plans for next year, strategically using what teachable moments they can for their children.
If there are no conventions, we at least know the ag community is connecting on a new level and being seen throughout the world. Already in the works is mending bridges between panic-ridden consumers and hardworking producers. Organic or conventional have little meaning when stocked grocery stores can no longer be taken for granted.
Farm Bureaus are fighting to raise political awareness for struggling farmers, people are taking to social media to share even their stories and offer support to one another. Certain seeds for a brighter future have been planted. A broken supply system, one that forces dairymen to dump milk and livestock producers to withhold sales, is finally being brought to light after years of farmers’ warnings falling on deaf ears.
Its only been a couple of short months and we’ve established this “new normal.” Already rural America has responded, reigniting that fighting spirit through the pain and hardships. Imagine what changes, the good with the bad, we will see a few years down the road. Maybe we won’t be the biggest benefactors of the COVID-19 shadow, but we can hope and pray our children will be.
A year without fairs, shows, rodeos, community gatherings and conventions will not be without its challenges. Hopefully one day, when we hit another inevitable rough spot in the journey of life, we can look back on this year, take a breath and nod. We made it once, we will make it again, and we will triumph. And besides, as we always say when faced with disappointment at the ringside “there’s always next year.”
Jaclyn Krymowski is a graduate of The Ohio State University with a major in animal industries and minor in agriculture communications. She is an enthusiastic agvocate, professional freelance writer, and blogs at the-herdbook.com.