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OPINION: FFA Creed accurately tells of living on land

By Lori Tonak

Mitchell Technical Institute

As I started writing this article the middle of last week, I was going to talk about animal health and nutrition.

But driving Sunday, I was looking out my window at the passing corn fields, with their curled leaves, trying to conserve moisture as they wait for rainfall. The news man on the radio started talking about the hail and wind damage around the Corsica/ Stickney area.

On Friday, I had returned from Minnesota and eastern South Dakota where plants are showing stress from too much water in the early part of the growing season. In other news this past week, there was still major unrest in the Middle East that was impacting markets on a daily basis. With all these things going through my mind, a creed that I learned in high school and taught for 20 years to secondary students popped into my head — “The FFA Creed” by E.M. Tiffany.

Tiffany stated in the first paragraph, “I believe in the future of agriculture, with a faith born not of words, but of deeds.”

In these changing times, everyone who lives on the land, I think, still lives by this mantra. It takes faith to pray for rain, knowing that it could come in the form of hail. It takes faith to plant seeds in the ground every spring, nurture those seeds, and hope to get a harvest in the fall. It takes faith when the markets are on a downward trend and you have the best crop you have ever raised.

In the second paragraph of “The FFA Creed,” there is a line that says “... for I know the joys and discomforts of agricultural life and hold an inborn fondness for those associations which, even in hours of discouragement, I cannot deny.”

I have witnessed this phrase time and time again. Ranchers who lost livestock in the Atlas Blizzard did not throw in the towel; instead, those ranchers made plans on how they could get through the year and, hopefully, come out in good shape on the other side. Tornadoes ripped through ranches and farms in the Wessington Springs area and the owners started picking up the pieces of their buildings as they formulated a plan of what would come next.

The fourth paragraph of the creed tells us things like “... in less need for charity and more of it when needed.”

When the Missouri River flooded and a call went out for help to sandbag or build levees to hold back the water, people showed up with equipment, physical labor, food, whatever was needed to help. After the Atlas Blizzard, farmers, ranchers, and agriculture industries around the state and country showed up to help ravaged ranchers.

I will close with the fifth paragraph E.M. Tiffany wrote: “I believe that American agriculture can and will hold true to the best traditions of our national life and that I can exert an influence in my home and community which will stand solid for my part in that inspiring task.”