With limited experience in agriculture, I had never
previously stepped foot on a farm, known anything about the challenges of crop
management, or even spoken with a farmer. Brighton gave me the chance to learn
about this unique industry from seasoned veterans with years of experience in
ag media, agrimarketing and production agriculture. Working for an agency that
supports clients from the farmer’s field to the consumer’s dinner plate was an
opportunity to gain a broader understanding of how interconnected our society truly
is. Specifically, it was a chance to learn about the multitude of ongoing
challenges – and opportunities – our farmers face in their effort to feed the
world. As a new member of the Brand Builders team, I was able to experience
Brighton’s commitment to investing in hands-on training for new employees by
taking a trip out of the office and into the fields.
During my first several weeks at Brighton, I immersed myself in all of the literature, field guides and farming blogs I could get my hands on to begin learning about crop management and the products and technologies available to farmers, as well as the basics of farming. While reading everything I could helped me gain a better of understanding of this complex industry, nothing could have helped as much as walking farm fields, visiting an elevator and touring an agrichemical dealership firsthand.
Fellow Brightonian Christine Hart-Nieland was kind enough to take us “newbies” to her family’s farm in northeast Missouri for an experience you simply can’t get from reading any text. The Hart farm has been in the family for nearly a century and has been passed down for going on five generations. There is a real sense of family and pride in their operation, and you can tell that Wallace Hart and Chris Linke, the father-son team that currently operates the farm, enjoy what they do. They primarily grow corn and soybeans on their 1,800 acres of land. They implement crop rotation techniques and reduced- and no-till practices in an effort to farm responsibly. Their current challenge, common to many family farms, is trying to navigate the process of handing down the farm from one generation to the next.
During our visit, we were able to walk a working farm that utilizes multiple combinations of seed treatment and chemistry to manage their pest problems while maximizing yields. We talked about the incredible number of variables that determine a farmer’s failure or success. We gained both a historical context and an understanding of current challenges and what the industry could look like moving forward. We also discussed equipment and the thought processes that could dictate the equipment used for specific situations.
Not only did we get to hear firsthand evaluations from the growers, but we also talked to the seed and chemistry dealer, Liter Fertilizer and Chemical, and visited the local elevator, ADM, as well. This helped paint a holistic picture of the interconnected people and technologies that contribute to the farmer’s success and the importance of the businesses that support production agriculture. These contrasting perspectives are vital to fully appreciate the entire agricultural industry and those who work within the profession.
I think the greatest takeaway from our trip to the farm was a genuine appreciation for farmers. They are a hardworking, intelligent and resilient group that do us all a service that is often over-looked or under-appreciated. Year in and year out, they face an array of uncontrollable variables from weather to chemistry resistance to the rise and fall of market prices for their crops. They know the risks and readily accept those challenges. I left tremendously impressed with the commitment of our farmers and prouder than ever to be a part of an agency that supports them.