Why farmers farm

Farmers across Michigan were asked why do you farm?

Census data tells us that Michigan is home to nearly 55,000 farms; the majority of principal operators are male; nearly 48 percent of farmers in Michigan consider farming their primary occupation and the average age of principal operators in 57.6 years. But have you stopped to consider “why farmers farm”?

During 2014 as part of a Michigan State University Extension agriculture literacy exercise, farmers at various programs and events were provided a simple black and white post card with the words “I farm because….” across the top. They were asked to complete the sentence and could keep their responses anonymous if desired. For some the task was easy, for others it was difficult. Some farmers took extra cards home to see what fellow family members and farm employees would say. Here are just a few responses from farmers all across Michigan:

I farm because……

  • “I enjoy being involved in agriculture. It is a passion my husband and I share.”
  • “it is the most rewarding and self-gratifying job I have ever had (became a farmer after 22 years of working in a factory).”
  • “I enjoy watching the circle of life.”
  • “my family has farmed for over 100 years. I enjoy being a steward of the land and I enjoy watching animals and crops grow.”
  • “of the glory….of producing a wholesome, nutritious product.”
  • “I love the challenge & satisfaction I get when the harvest is in.”
  • “it is what I love to do.”
  • “it is a way of life and a wonderful place to raise a family.”
  • “I am able to be my own boss and do what I enjoy.”
  • “I feel called to be a steward of the land and to help feed the world.”

So, whether it is a sense of independence or a desire to be connected to the land and life on that land, the participating farmers expressed passion for what they do, day in and day out. Farmers work hard to produce safe, wholesome food and whether they are raising cattle, producing milk or growing crops they are united in their commitment to a quality of life and to the consumers they feed.

To bring this agriculture literacy promotion full circle, the cards have been displayed at several public venues so consumers can see first-hand why farmers farm and how committed they are to producing food for Michigan consumers and beyond.

For more information about this project, please contact me, agriculture literacy educator at (989)354-9875 or at dunckelm@anr.msu.edu.

Did you find this article useful?