One of the truly excellent things about being a trade press editor in agriculture is getting to see and experience a lot of pretty unique things. For example, When Mosaic was celebrating the 75th anniversary of its New Mexico potash mines, they invited me to ride down one of the dozens of elevator shafts 1000 feet underground and see the mining operation in person. It wasn’t on my personal bucket list to be sure, but it was a great trip nevertheless.
Visits like the one just described provide valuable insight and deepen one’s appreciation for the intracacies of agriculture. But often they provide something more important — a sense of pride in the people and organizations that make modern agriculture the outstanding industry it is today.
Like anyone else, I can be prone to stale vision and lack of perspective when I’ve spent too much time at the grindstone. As I sit here writing this column, I’ve gone more than three months without travelling the countryside. All that changes next week, and I can’t wait.
As an ag communicator, renewing that connection to the people we represent is critical. It especially struck me this past winter while making some visits to basic manufacturers.
At the BASF US headquarters in North Carolina, Group Publisher Al Strohmaier and I were invited to tour the research facilities and hear about the latest innovations that are increaing the efficiency and effectiveness of crop protection product research. No doubt, holding large bins of insects bred for trials is cool, but what struck me was the people. Very smart, very articulate, and very young. Perhaps it’s my perspective these days, as some of the presenters were probably little more than seven or eight years older than my high school class of 2011 daughter, but numbers of young people running around the halls in lab coats took me a bit by surprise.
It was refreshing to see, and obvious by their attitudes and pride in their work that they see themselves making an important contribution to society. And really, what’s more important than that next innovation that increases food production and gets us another step closer to feeding our growing global population?
I’m sure a lot of you have toured manufacturing facilities, but perhaps you haven’t taken the time in recent years or didn’t really think a trip like that would be worth it. If you get invited, I recommend you make the time to go. It will renew your faith in agriculture, and in the next generation’s ability to take the reins and lead us into the future.
Speaking of “faith in agriculture,” this is the time of year when we celebrate excellence in retail stewardship through the Environmental Respect Awards program. As you read this, our regional winners will be trickling back from a fantastic experience in Washington DC, speaking to government leaders, networking with and learning from each other, and taking in all that our nation’s capital has to offer.
I’d like to offer my personal congratulations, and encourage you to consider submitting an entry in 2012. It’s a great way to visibly demonstrate your commitment to excellence to your community, your employees, and the country.