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Agriculture and Politics

It seems to me that there is a growing trend in the U.S. agriculture industry: students across the country are abandoning their agricultural roots in pursuit of more glamorous urban careers. It’s crazy to think that not too long ago; I was one of those kids. Growing up on my family’s cattle ranch, I loved being my dad’s right-hand-man. I was a tomboy to the fullest, always helping with chores, working on my show calves or selling bulls to our customers. Yes, life on the farm was great, and I loved every minute of it.

All of that changed when I started high school.

I desperately wanted to fit in with my peers. After years of being teased about living on a cattle farm, I decided enough was enough. No one at Mitchell High would know about my life away from school. I decided never to return to agriculture. Back then, I didn’t see any career choices or any future for myself in this industry.

The first day of high school, I told my mom my plan to abandon my roots and finally be one of the cool kids. I’ll never forget what she told me that day, “Mandy, never forget who you are or where you come from.”

I didn’t truly understand her words until years down the road. As my high school career rounded the corner and began to come to a close, I realized how foolish I had been. I hadn’t been very successful at hiding my home life anyway. There were so many nights and weekends when I had to skip movies or weekend gatherings with my friends because of the farm. Soon, everyone had discovered that I was a farm girl.

Yet, when I started my freshman year at South Dakota State University, I still wasn’t convinced that agriculture had a home for me. I was going to major in Political Science, and my plan was to save the world as a lobbyist. In my first semester, I desperately attempted to tie the lessons I learned in class to issues facing the agriculture industry. To my great dismay, my professors didn’t have a clue about ag law and the turbulence in the cattle business. I realized that my place belonged with fellow agriculturalists, and the rest is history. I know now, more than ever, the challenges of high input costs facing farmers and ranchers today make for a less than perfect climate for making a living off the land, but I’m convinced that there still is a future for young people in agriculture.

I’m in my senior year of agricultural journalism classes at SDSU, and I have finally come to realize how important agriculture is in my life. I guess that’s where the BEEF Daily Blog seems like the perfect platform to finally combine my love of political science and agriculture. With the presidential election only a couple months away, it’s time to seriously think about the candidate that will carry agriculture’s best interest at heart. So who are you supporting and why? Which candidate has your vote? And which agriculture issues are you most concerned about in the upcoming future? COOL? 2008 Farm Bill? NAIS? Come on folks…we live in a democracy. Let your voice be heard!