Farmer Up for Youth

Becky Plattner is “up” on farming and the Grand Pass farmer is helping youth stay upbeat about the future of agriculture. It’s not easy being a farmer or rancher these days

Becky Plattner is “up” on farming and the Grand Pass farmer is helping youth stay upbeat about the future of agriculture. It’s not easy being a farmer or rancher these days. Those who live off the land today worry about more than just weather and markets. Today’s world is more complicated, and so is farming.

But Becky knows the benefits outweigh the headaches. She hopes high school students interested in an agricultural career heed the call to “Farmer Up!”

“Farmer Up! is a statement for all who work in the field of agriculture,” says Becky. “When you seem to be going through something tough and want to get out of farming altogether, I say ‘farmer up’ and work that much harder. It is the surviving for centuries that has given many of us the very privilege of saying that we are Missouri Farmers and proud of it.”

The idea came to Becky four years ago when standing in line for refreshments after a wedding. “I turned to a gentleman behind me and asked how he was and what he was doing these days. As he poked his hands in his pockets and looked down at the floor, he shyly answered, ‘Oh, I farm.’ He almost acted ashamed to answer me and at that point, I began my mission,” she says.

Becky and her husband, Russell, have slowly grown their grassroots effort to help high school students feel good about agriculture by distributing rubber wrist bands with the slogan “Farmer Up!” The bands come in two colors. Brown represents the earth and orange represents safety.

The Farmer Up! slogan was borrowed from the rodeo phrase “cowboy up,” a rally cry for cowboys thrown off a bronc to get back up and ride again. The phrase means tough it out.

Becky hopes high school students, those in FFA, 4-H, and anyone with an interest in agriculture, will spread the word that farming is a great career, one that many farmers and ranchers are passionate about more than ever.

Becky knows about passion and toughness. She and Russell have two daughters who are both recipients of the FFA American Farmer Degree. The Plattners farm in partnership with Russell’s brother, Spencer. “I can’t explain it other than my husband and his brother absolutely get a thrill when they smell dirt being turned,” she says. Then there are the two hired hands, one a nephew and the other a neighbor. “Every day we have two young men get in the tractor because they love farming.”

But Becky wears another hat as Saline County Presiding Commissioner. The position has been challenging for her during a time when county citizens increasingly scrutinize confined animal feeding operations proposed in the county. All the more reason, she says, to promote Farmer Up! to anyone with a foot in agriculture. Farmer Up! is about generating excitement.

“I enjoy the privilege of saying I am a farmer, and to be able to produce products to help feed the world. In our part of the world that is what we know how to do,” she says. “I say look at agriculture, look at where we are coming from, look at what we can do,” Becky says.

She continues to meet with FFA chapters to hand out the rubber wrist bands and the message they bear. Her hope is they catch on among rural students much like the “I’m Proud to Be a Farmer” buttons of the '70s. Although the words are different, the meaning is the same. Farmer Up!