Greetings from Bill Bakan, Farmer Bill the “Fun TSAR” at Maize Valley Farm Market and Winery. I was encouraged to comment on a post on Just Farmers by a friend of mine. Seth Teter with the Ohio Farm Bureau had just put up a blog post on February 9th entitled “Farmers are People too”. He made some excellent points and also asked for input. I did so and a few of the folks who follow and read the blog suggested I offer it as a blog post itself. Recently the “pot was stirred” a bit you might say on with the Dodge Ram commercial. The wake was almost as impressive as the splash itself. I’ll put a few words about me at the bottom if you are still interested in learning a little more about me but I’m really “Just a Farmer”! The following is my post in the comment section: http://www.justfarmers.biz/blog/2013/02/07/farmers-are-people-too/
At one time the “farmer” had but one “image” replicated over and over in children’s story books as the kindly gentleman in bibs and straw hat chewing on a reed of grass. It was a “Brand” almost a “logo” before Nike, Under Armor, or McD’s had meaning. It represented those images flashed upon the national stage before us in a 2 minute montage’ this past Sunday, during the “Big Game”.
Farming was simple when the brand was cast, it is not so much today. Back in the Day the virtues of a farmer extended not much farther than a person whom ensured the absence of hunger and a pillar within the community their families helped to build. No bumper stickers needed you saw them every day and the worlds were intertwined.
Today I’m a “farmer” on a family farm that walks in many worlds from “commercial” to “organic” Maybe I am too “Old School” anymore but a “Lasting Image” can no more be created or destroyed by “campaigns” unless there are supporting actions and facts to back it up.
Remember money talks and B.S. walks (yea I still say stuff like that) and despite all the perceived problems some of us think we have in agriculture about our image a multi-national company just spent millions of dollars to try and extend their brand to encompass our image. No matter your opinion or perception of the Dodge ad the fact it happened at all along with the “Year of the Farmer” says a great deal. That was money talking.
The permanent thing I endeavor to is guided by where I see my competitive advantage related to agriculture align with emerging opportunities I perceive and then I try to adapt to evolving environment all the while staying true to my core principles. What does that mean? I DO NOT purposely “Agvocate” (I hate that word) rather I “Project Image by Doing” (sound familiar?). I engage with what I do not understand and attempt to learn. I ask “foodies” questions like “Why is Monsanto so bad?” I listen to their responses and attempt to learn based upon my experiences and agricultural knowledge if they have a point and if so or not how can we continue to have a mutually positive interaction.
We are not “chosen” we just have greater opportunities to interact along a timeline than most ways of life that is associated with more romantic images or our countries heritage. Hence we get the call more often and may find people interested in learning about agriculture and thereby its “people”. Along that path may we be wise enough to relive their worries, because that’s what’s it all about!
Bill; 1985 Ag Education Grad from The Ohio State University currently owns and helps operate Maize Valley Farm Market in Hartville, Ohio with his Wife of 27+yrs Michelle, Brother in Law Todd and Mother and Father in Law Kay and Donna Vaughan. Former custom applicator and certified crop consultant, grain inventory manager for 475,000 bu. farm storage facility, on the families 3,000 ac grain/dairy farm. Former Hazardous tanker CDL truck driver etc, (You know the drill). Farm currently consists of approx. 700 acres with 40-50 different crops with direct farm market, winery and agri-tourism destination and farmers’ market off site sales also. But basically I shoot pumpkins out of a cannon for a living… how cool is that??? Shhhhhh don’t tell anybody I may have get a “real job” someday!