–Tanner Clark is a Douglas County farmer and serves as the American Farm Bureau Young Farmers & Ranchers Committee Vice Chair–
A couple of weeks ago, I sat in my “mobile office” looking out the window after completing my morning farm chores. I paused to take in the beauty of the fresh snow that blanketed the ground. The pure white snow touched everything in sight. The ice crystals sat light as a feather on every strand of barbed wire and on every tree branch. Moments like that bring a sense of appreciation to reflect on the past and look forward.
My reflection brought me to thoughts of other young farmers like myself across the country. My wife, Kerre, and I raise crops and cattle in the south central part of the state. We’ve seen a lot of Missouri in the past few years as members of the Missouri Farm Bureau Young Farmers and Ranchers (YF&R) Committee and now the American Farm Bureau YF&R Committee. Along the way, we found great people willing to be involved in making the industry we share better, gaining many good friends in the process.
My own involvement with the young agriculturalists on the state committee opened my eyes to the challenges farmers face throughout this diverse agricultural state. The Garst family in northwest Missouri comes to mind. They farm the Missouri River bottoms, and in 2019 most of their farm was flooded. I didn’t see their farm in person, but videos and stories shared brought the reality close to home. When you know someone who is facing such challenges head-on, it is human nature to help make the changes necessary to prevent disasters like that from happening again. We may not be able to help physically, but through Farm Bureau, we have realized help can come in the form of a stronger, united voice to find aid and to pass policies that help in the future.
Closer to home, I learned how disruptive feral hogs are to farming practices. These once domesticated, but now wild, hogs can destroy whole fields in a single night. Repairing the land and replanting is no simple task. If the hogs are not exterminated, they come back to repeat the damage. Working with others to someday eliminate the problem from our landscape is important, and Farm Bureau strives to help the agencies and landowners involved accomplish that goal.
After Kerre and I finished serving on the state YF&R committee, we were nominated to represent our state nationally on the AFBF YF&R committee in 2021, and the next year, I served as the committee’s vice chair. We worked with young producers nationwide who grow everything from cattle and sugar cane to corn and crawfish. It is fair to say Farm Bureau is an organization for any size farm operation, no matter what is produced.
And when it comes to issues, no matter where, farmers fight the same fights. We had the chance to talk with young farmers from Australia, Japan and other countries. We found they face the same challenges overseas. Water issues and property rights are universal, and labor shortages and rising input costs are just as real.
Looking out my truck window, I reflect on our time on these committees. Like a blanket of snow, it only lasts for a while and is gone. The business of spring is nearly here with calving season, fertilizing the fields and planting another season of crops that will lead to another harvest. Like the seasons, the friendships and connections made through Farm Bureau carry on. Farm Bureau has its own season of meetings, all with the purpose of building a better organization by helping farmers and ranchers continue to care for the land. The MOFB YF&R Leadership Conference coming up later this week is one of them. Then, in March, we will visit Jacksonville, Florida, for the AFBF Fusion Conference. Both are tailored for young farmers and ranchers.
As AFBF President Zippy Duvall says, “If you’re not at the table, you’re on the menu.” You will find me sitting at the table, and there is room for more to join me.