4 Ways Farmers can Impact Their Communities Plus the Benefits
You are important!
As a farmer, you play strategic roles in our economy through the production of food, fuel, and other resources, but have you ever thought about the other ways you can make an impact on the community at the local level? Through personal and farming relations at the community level, you have the opportunity to change the way people look at agriculture, business, and even life itself.
In a world where so many people are wrapped up in the hustle and bustle of schedules, technology, stressful relationships, and bills, there is an ever-increasing opportunity for farmers to step up and go beyond their job descriptions. In this blog, you’ll learn how to get involved with your community and begin to change lives through your influence as a farmer.
#1 Have a Bigger Purpose for Farming
Here’s a question for you: Why do you do what you do? Is there a fundamental reason behind why you do farming the way you do?
Before diving into detailed ways you can make an impact as an influencer farmer, take a minute to evaluate what you want your deeper goal for farming to be.
Making a big picture goal is the most important step you can do before getting involved in the community.
What is your big picture, local-level goal? Is it to encourage entrepreneurship in others? Do you want to help raise up a generation that knows how to work hard? Is your goal to show others the value of farming, help them catch the love of the farm, or to teach them how to trust the Lord through all the ups and downs of agriculture?
You get to choose.
If you’re having a hard time deciding what your overall goal should be, ask yourself this question: “What motivates me?” Then think about practical ways you can turn that personal motivation into action. As you do this, be sure that your goal is actionable, meaning that you can practically apply your goal.
Here’s an example of both a not-so-actionable goal and one that is very practical. If, for example, you say, “Well, I am motivated by hamburgers,” and decide that you want to use them to make an impact, it might be a little harder to do than if you, say, you used your motivation to be involved with AG in politics. One motivation or goal is more actionable than the other.
When you know your own values, then you can start branching off with ideas for how to help others.
Take Pat Kirk as an example. His goal is not only to raise and sell premier, black Angus calves in Iowa, but to use his resources to honor God and encourage his friends. And you know what? He has fulfilled that big purpose goal beautifully. Pat hosted a bomb fire for friends and his church family, volunteered his hayrack and tractor to transport Christmas carolers, donated to different causes, and even loaned his vintage, Pontiac convertible to a couple for their wedding send off. Pat’s goal is actionable.
Try filling out this sentence for yourself. Remember, this goal should be practical and achievable.
I value/am motivated by ________ . I can use my values/motivations by ___________, _________________, and ____________ to positively impact people’s lives. Therefore my goal is ________________.
The importance of a farmer making a community-oriented goal has far-reaching impact.
#2 Be a Farmer for Kids
Want a really practical way to impact the next generation? Be a farmer for the kids. Be willing to hire them, teach them, listen to them, and get them involved in learning about the farm. Using your farming influence to impact the children of your community is a way you, as a farmer, can have a big, generational impact.
What opportunities can you give kids?
The biggest thing you can give kids and young adults is the opportunity to grow their character and values. It comes through hard work. Bailing, fetching supplies, repairing fences, picking up sticks and trash, bottle feeding, making sure livestock has adequate water and food, repairing implements, and so on can’t help but teach kids hands-on, problem-solving skills that will benefit them for the rest of their lives.
What you can give kids through your influence as a farmer is priceless.
Wait a minute, we can hear you object, having youngsters with little to no experience help out on my farm will take up more of my already limited time. Granted, this is true, but it is also worth the effort. You will have to decide if it’s worth it and if it aligns with your community goals.
The payoff of a generation that has work ethic and integrity may even come back to benefit you as you look for good farmhands.
On one occasion, an inexperienced young man was half distracted, half assisting Pat with one of his black Angus cows while the vet examined it. As the Doc. and Pat went about their work checking up on the cow, they looked up in surprise as the young man continuously pulled one candy after another out of his pockets, spilling some over onto the ground and creating quite a distraction. Although this was not helpful in the situation, afterward, Pat Kirk was able to discuss it and train the young man to do better next time.
Why do we need farmers who are willing to work with kids? Because farmers, of all people, know how to work hard, value life, and depend on God. These are priceless character traits you can pass on to the kids in your sphere of influence.
Here are some other ways you can be a farmer for kids:
1. Let your farm be a field trip destination
2. Host hayrack rides
3. Have a few kids out to the farm just to visit
4. Let a young person help with simple jobs like bottle feeding a calf or opening and closing gates for you
5. Hosting a low-key anatomy class
6. Gifting an animal like a cat or even a bottle calf to a child
7. Working with 4H and FFA students
#3 Be a Good Farmer
This one might sound a little confusing, but it’s the simplest thing to do. Just doing what is right can have a huge influence on your community.
For a Christian farmer, the motivation for our integrity is founded in what Jesus said in Matthew 5:16, “Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven” (ESV). It’s not that farmers want to proudly say, “Look at how good I am,” but that we want to conduct our farming businesses in ways that bring glory to God. We want people to look at our personal and business integrity and think Wow! Why are they so honest? Their God must be something special. Christain farmers should reflect Christ in the way we do business.
A farmer’s influence through his or her honesty, good stewardship, integrity, positive values, and overall stewardship will always make an impact on those around them.
So, if you’re doing taxes, report honestly and accurately. If you have hired hands, treat them with integrity by paying them what they’re worth, watching your language, and treating them as valuable members of the farming operation. If you see a calf down, do what you can to help it revive. When you have a broken fence and your animals destroy someone’s yard or field, offer to make it right.
In the end, your example of good morals as a farmer speaks louder than words. You will build trust, loyalty, and support in your community when they see that you are not just a farmer, but a GOOD farmer – and, hopefully, they’ll learn from your example.
You are a farmer leader by example!
#4 Practice Local Community, Business Involvement
Often, farmers encourage economic growth in big ways. For example, farmers play a role in supporting gas companies, grain elevators, implement dealerships, livestock production, cattle markets, hog markets, and energy production plants. But did you know there are ways you can support the local economy too?
Think about your local businesses. How can you support them? Can you supply to a local meat market, donate resources or time to businesses in your community, or buy locally? When you do, you demonstrate the importance of farming at the local business level.
Pat Kirk contributes to local business in his community in two practical ways. He purchases locally and frequents a few key businesses to share market information and discuss business plans.
What are some ways you can get involved in supporting businesses in your local economy?
How You Benefit from Investing Locally
Is there a payoff for farmers? At first glance, what a farmer does for the community may seem like a one-sided relationship. Maybe you feel like if you invest any more time or resources into an “unnecessary” goal, your farm may be neglected, you’ll be overspent, your own relationships may suffer, or maybe you just don’t feel like spending your free time in a community investment. The choice is up to you.
But we want you to know that it IS worth it. Although monetary reward may not be an immediate result, the long-term benefits of using your farming influence to help locals very rarely goes without a return.
There are two main ways that investing in your community can pay off:
For your business - The payoff of your efforts to build positive influence locally results in built trust, rapport, a good reputation, and positive branding. These are the foundations to increased sales and positive business relations. Investing in your community is one of the best forms of advertising and promotion. Give it a try and see if we’re right!
For you personally – The payoff on a personal side is more fulfilling because you know you’re using your farming influence for a bigger purpose.
Whether it’s teaching a youngster how to work or donating time and resources to support your church, at the end of the day, investing in your community means you can walk away knowing that you changed people’s lives – for the better. This type of payoff can’t be measured in dollars and sense.
Still stumped for ways to get involved in your community? Here are a few ideas to get you started:
Volunteer your animals for a petting zoo at your town celebration or fair.
Offer hayrack rides for your church youth group or for the graduating class of that year.
Get involved in local politics.
Donate meat to a community event, your church, or programs for the needy.
Be a field trip destination for a public school class or home school group.
Offer an AG internship.
Donate to a local charity.
Share farming and market advice with new farmers and local businesses.
You hold the power to change people’s lives, so get out there and do it!
A Real-Life Example to Inspire Farmers
Here’s a little inspiration from our farm to yours. In the spring of 2021, Pat Kirk turned a negative situation on his Iowa black Angus cattle farm into a celebration with his community. Read about it here.