Thankful for farmers

For the residents of southwest Minnesota and northwest Iowa who are familiar with local celebrations, Turkey Day has completely different connotations.

There’s the Turkey Day in September, when Worthington’s wildly popular bird, Paycheck, races against Ruby Begonia of Cuero, Texas, down a two-block stretch of 10th Street; and then there’s the Turkey Day feast of Thanksgiving, which is just a couple of days away.

On one day we celebrate the fastest dumbest bird and, on the other, we celebrate all that we can be thankful for (like Paycheck’s wins in both Worthington and Cuero this year!)

All kidding aside, at the Buntjer family gathering this year, we can be thankful that we have a turkey on the table, and a farmer somewhere in this country (perhaps from Minnesota) who raised it.

The turkey was secured on Sunday after church. (This after Mom had a nightmare that it was noon on Thanksgiving Day and the bird was still frozen!)

While I’m thankful for having a turkey, and the farmer who raised it, I’m also thankful for a mom who can cook it. I’ve never attempted to cook the big bird — I’m more comfortable focusing on a side dish, like the green bean casserole. Actually, I think this year I’m also going to attempt to make the sweet potatoes in a crock pot. I can be thankful for the farmers that grew the sweet potatoes too!

All of this talk about being thankful for farmers was just one of the discussions generated during the Minnesota Farm Bureau Federation’s annual meeting last week in the Twin Cities. On Friday, rather than working behind my desk at the office, I was in the classroom, learning how to teach people about agriculture.

As a farm girl — and a farm reporter — I tend to take for granted how little people really know about agriculture. Even with my own disconnect to the farm, there are things I don’t know. I’ve never milked a cow using a milking machine; I don’t know what a yield monitor looks like in a combine; and I wouldn’t have any idea how to operate an auto-steer tractor.

Still, I know the difference between corn, soybeans, alfalfa and sugarbeets. Many of you farmers may laugh at the obvious differences in those crops, but it’s apparent more and more people in our society don’t know one crop from the other. With each generation, people have fewer and fewer connections to farmers.

Their connection to agriculture, however, is as close as their Thanksgiving dinner.

Agriculture is all around us, from the food on our table to the clothes on our back and the shoes on our feet. It’s the American farmer who raised that turkey, grew those potatoes, harvested the corn and the wheat that were processed into flours that went into the bread for your stuffing, and milked the cows so you could enjoy a glass of milk.

I’m sure we all have plenty we can find to be thankful for this Thanksgiving Day, but I don’t know of anything or anyone more important to our Thanksgiving feast than the American farmer.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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