Giving Thanks

By Katie Micik
DTN Markets Editor

OMAHA (DTN) — One of my favorite childhood memories of Thanksgiving wasn’t about the food, or the family, or the football, although those three F’s always made it into the grace my Uncle John always said before he carved the turkey.

No, what I loved most was that my family dressed up as Pilgrims for the Thanksgiving weekend church service. There was something about that starched collar, apron and bonnet that transported me back to the original Thanksgiving Day feast that gave rise to the American tradition. I could feel the satisfaction of the Pilgrims and the Indians as they enjoyed the fruits of their labor. It took dedication, sweat equity, an incredible amount of trust and faith to put that meal on the table. It wasn’t easy, and that’s why everyone was thankful.

Now, as an adult, I see the beautiful lessons I learned from wearing that simple clothing. However, I think I have learned an even more beautiful lesson during my five years at DTN: how our modern Thanksgiving dinner ends up on my mother’s table. My understanding of food has fundamentally changed, and for that, I’m blessed.

Behind every steak, I see a grain farmer, a rancher, and someone who fed that steer so I could enjoy an impeccably marbled rib eye. I see the laborers picking the produce that I buy all year round at affordable prices. Behind every bottle of beer, I see the wheat and barley growers that I’ve met over the years.

It’s hard for me to think about food and not think about the people who dedicate their lives to growing it. So whenever it’s my turn to say the Thanksgiving grace, I’m going to add a fourth "F" to my uncle’s list. I’m going to thank farmers for feeding me and my family. I’ll still include football in true Micik fashion, even though the Chicago Bears have let me down this year. Like they say, there’s always next year.

Last week, my "work mom" Cheri Zagurski (Thank you for all you do, Cheri!) and I reached out to some of the farmers and asked what’s on their list of thanks this year.

The farmers’ responses reminded me of why I love, and am deeply grateful, to work in this industry. It’s impossible for me to summarize all of the beautiful thoughts farmers shared with us, so we’ll let them speak for themselves.

"As we approach Thanksgiving 2014, I am thankful for the bountiful crops that we were blessed with this season. I also count it a great blessing to work alongside family in our farming operation. We were blessed with a third grandchild this summer and being a part of their lives on a near daily basis is a great joy. The opportunity for my grandchildren to spend time with my parents is very special in today’s world, when many children don’t know their grandparents, let alone their great-grandparents. There is a great deal of personal satisfaction in agriculture, but an even greater sense of purpose and responsibility in providing food, fuel, and fiber for a global marketplace. That is a commitment that I think the majority of producers takes seriously.

"Over the past several years, we have witnessed likely the most profitable stretch for agriculture in our lifetime. While the outlook for the next couple of years is less optimistic, there is a legacy that remains. The number of young men and women coming back into agriculture is incredibly exciting. After a couple of generations of farmers advising their sons and daughters to look beyond the farm gate for a career, that attitude has waned. The technology and opportunities have changed the game, and this new generation is providing us with new perspectives. That is something that those of us who value rural America and families working together should really celebrate this Thanksgiving." — Bart Ruth, Rising City, Neb.

"What to be thankful for this Thanksgiving season is Mother Nature giving our area a bountiful harvest in both small grain and in row crops. The ability of our farmers and employees to handle the long hours and stress involved in moving and harvesting this crop in a safe and cooperating manner to feed the people of this world we call home." — Tim Luken, manager of Oahe Grain in Onida, S.D.

"I’m thankful to be able to work in the agricultural industry — the interaction with the farming community has been a blessing. I’m also thankful for bacon and all that it does." — Doug Bartlett, marketing adviser, Kansas City

"Here at Wallis farms we are very thankful for a bountiful and safe harvest. We give thanks to God for the opportunity to work in the greatest profession in America. It was an extra gratifying season as it was our first with our son J.R. as a full-time farmer. Really makes you smile watching grandson and grandpa working side by side in the fields. And last, but surely not least, we are thankful that my wife and I are going to be grandparents for the first time next spring as our daughter and son-in-law are expecting in May. God willing, let the next generation, number 5, begin in a healthy way here at Wallis Farms." — Scott Wallis, Princeton, Ind.

"My wife and I are thankful for unbelievable cattle markets. We are also thankful for the excellent doctors that have cared for us over the year as I recovered from a farming accident and for those that have cared for Jana and my folks with their health issues. We have faith that our government leaders will think clearly and are thankful to live in a country where we can express our opinions freely. Have a happy holiday." — Doug Zillinger

"We often complain, and I have done my fair share, about the weather, the commodity markets, etc., but most of it, we cannot control and we have to stop and smell the roses. What I am most thankful for is my health. I am also thankful for my wife, kids and grandchildren, all family. This all seems so simple, but we need to stop when things are not going the way we want and think, someone has it worse off than me. I am also thankful that the American people have an abundance of safe food to purchase every day for their family. And I cannot forget that I am thankful for all the friends such as yourself that I have met being a director on the Minnesota Corn Research and Promotion Council. Happy Thanksgiving!" — Jerry Demmer, Clarks Grove, Minn.

"My wife and I are very thankful for the very good crops (best in our farming career). God was and is very good to us with perfect weather, so we got everything done in a timely manner; also he gave us the good health to be able to do this. We are very thankful for our family; they’ll all be home for the holiday, except for the four grandchildren in the military. We are thankful for our freedom, that we can worship our God and farm his land. So much to be thankful for. Have A Happy Thanksgiving." — Rose and Gerald Gauck, Milan, Ind.

"Hi Cheri (and Katie). Here in west-central Michigan, we are thankful that 2014 will soon be over and we can move into 2015. I am thankful for many things; my wife who is so supportive, for the markets we do have (they could be worse), for several of my loyal and faithful employees (whom I couldn’t farm without) but most thankful for living in a free country even though it has its issues. Happy turkey day to all." — Phil Carter

"I am first of all most thankful for faith, family and friends. This is followed up by a year of good health for myself and my wife Lea. Despite many weather challenges, I am very thankful for a reasonably good crop and a reasonably good intellect to have most of it sold at profitable prices. I am especially thankful that we still live in a democracy and are able to vote to send messages to Washington to voice our satisfaction or displeasure with this country’s leadership. And of course I am very thankful for my many friends at DTN who provide great information on a daily basis on just about any topic in agriculture. See you and my fellow farmers at the DTN AG Summit Chicago in three weeks. Happy Thanksgiving." — Mark Nowak

"Our crop year was good with adequate rain and modest temperatures, although trying to complete corn and soybean harvest in Michigan has become a challenge. These are year-to-year issues and come and go with each year so you deal with them and move on, but, we are very thankful for all that He has provided in 2014. On the macro scale, I am blessed by having the opportunity to be a farmer in the greatest country in the world. Having traveled to nearly 30 other countries for the USB (United Soybean Board) promoting soybeans and soy products, I have witnessed the wide array of problems farmers experience in other lands. I have never returned to the U.S. wishing I could operate a farm in some other nation. Are there opportunities out there? Absolutely! Can those opportunities become reality? Someday. But American farmers must realize just how good we have it here and now! Have a safe and happy Thanksgiving." — Barry Mumby, Colon, Mich.

On behalf of the entire DTN newsroom staff, we’d like to thank you, dear readers, for making us a part of your day. Thank you for the work you do so that we can do the work we do. We wish you a very happy Thanksgiving and blessed holiday season.

Katie Micik can be reached at katie.micik@dtn.com

Follow Katie Micik on Twitter @KatieMDTN

(AG/SK)