Generations Nourishing Generations - March 19, 2013
By Kerin Clark, Wyoming Farm Bureau Federation
Nourish. Webster’s Dictionary defines nourish as: “to supply with food; to feed and cause to grow; to nurture; to encourage.” “Generations Nourishing Generations” is the theme for the 2013 National Agriculture Day celebration.
The definition of nourish fits agriculture in two ways. First, generations of farmers and ranchers have supplied generations of consumers with food. Second, generations of farmers and ranchers have encouraged and trained the next generation of farmers and ranchers.
Generations of food production
For generations, farmers and ranchers have produced food and fiber for our nation. For generations, farmers and ranchers have cared for the land and the animals. For generations, farmers and ranchers have provided habitat for wildlife. For generations to come, they will continue to be a part of keeping Wyoming strong!
Agriculture also provides strength to the economy. The value of agriculture in Wyoming exceeds one billion dollars (Wyoming Agricultural Statistics 2012). Additionally, agriculture has a ripple effect on local economies, putting money back into the community with purchases at the implement dealers, veterinary clinics, grocery stores and more.
Local governments also benefit through property taxes and cost of services when land remains in production agriculture. These lands only require 69 cents in services for each dollar paid in local taxes. Compare that to $2.40 cents in services for each dollar paid in local taxes by rural residential landowners. (University of Wyoming, College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Dept. of Agricultural and Applied Science.)
Generations of training
The second component of generations nourishing generations is the families that make up the agriculture industry. Generations before us have established the operations and taught the next generation how to run the family business. The next generation also offers new ideas to the older generations.
The Hefenieder family in Washakie County has three generations working together. “My dad, Bill, is very soon to be 78 years old,” Jim Hefenieder said. “He is the first one to work in the morning. My mom, Bonnie, manages our office. I work with my two brothers, Bob and John, and their son’s Al and Blake help us get the work done.”
“There is an indescribable relationship between my Dad and his grandsons. Of course the respect from the grandsons towards Grandpa is immense,” Hefenieder explained. “Grandpa and Grandma are good to counsel the young guys.”
“The older generations contribute historical knowledge and the younger generations bring many new ideas and very much needed energy and enthusiasm,” Hefenieder said.
“Every day each generation is learning from the other,” He continued. “Parental nurturing goes on all of the time, but there is also a lot of nurturing between uncles and nephews.”
According to Hefenieder, working in a multi-generational operation is all his family knows. “My father worked with his father and grandfather and I remember working with my grandfather,” He said. “I enjoy working with my nephews. It’s just the way it is.”
“While I cannot say every hour of every day is perfect, I have to tell you that many of us hardly know how it could be different,” He continued.
“I believe having the ability to function as multi-generational operations is something that sets agriculture apart from many industries,” He stated. “You cannot hire the kind of help you can raise. Those little ones that have been going along and watching and doing a little more each year just turn into mighty good workers.”
Hefenieder noted the loyalty and dedication to each other is invaluable. “I know when the chips are down, there are folks I can count on,” He said. “It's that loyalty and dedication to people that truly care about each other and a common cause that makes them pull together and get things done like no one else could.”
This is just one example of many multi-generational families in agriculture. Take time to meet some of the folks in your community who are a part of the agriculture industry. For generations to come, they will continue to nourish the next generation of consumers and the next generation of food producers.
The Wyoming Farm Bureau invites all Wyomingites to “Celebrate Agriculture” and learn more about its role in your daily lives and recognize the issues impacting agriculture. We proudly celebrate Wyoming agriculture and its people every day of the year and specifically on Wyoming Agriculture Day, March 19, 2013. Visit us at www.wyfb.org.
The Wyoming Farm Bureau Federation is the state’s largest general agriculture organization. The primary goals of the organization are to protect private property rights and help members achieve an equitable return on their investment.