I grew up on a small row-crop farm in southeast Missouri working with my grandparents, parents and siblings as we raised soybeans, wheat, rice, corn and vegetables. My wife and I now run the farm with the help of my parents and three outstanding employees. The original family farm, along with land rented from neighbors, is used for our independent agricultural research business. We began in 2008 on the same land that my grandparents purchased in the 1940s. My grandmother is 94 years old and still lives on the farm. Like many other farms, ours was and continues to be a family affair.
Lessons Learned From An Early Age
When I was 5 or 6 years old, my sister and I would help chop morning glories and other weeds out of our watermelon and cantaloupe patches. Before pigweed became quite the major epidemic, morning glories were a major pest in melons. Herbicide options were limited and expensive, so our dad’s weed control program involved kids and hoes. We would race to the end of each row and promptly ask dad for the quarter we were supposed to get for weeding that particular row. He’d look back at the row and all the weeds we had missed and tell us to try again. We didn’t get nearly as many quarters as we would have liked, but we did learn the importance of hard work and getting the job done right.
Working on the farm, I also learned the importance of agriculture. Besides a short stint in middle school when I thought I wanted to be an engineer, it’s been agriculture for me all the way. Every single job I’ve had since I was a little kid chopping watermelon rows has been in agriculture. It’s what I know and what I love. I pray that my children are blessed to have many opportunities in agriculture like I have had. I hope they grow into weed-choppers, too!
Today, I feel very fortunate to be able to serve as the 2018 president of the National Alliance of Independent Crop Consultants (NAICC). We are an organization composed of independent researchers, consultants and quality assurance professionals. Collectively, we represent nearly every commercially grown crop in the U.S. and have members in 40 states and several countries. As an organization, we provide continuing education and extensive networking opportunities for our members and work with a number of commodity and agricultural groups to educate legislators about the issues facing agriculture. The NAICC also established the Foundation for Environmental Agricultural Education, which, in addition to other activities, provides scholarships to agriculture students. It is an amazing group of people, and I am incredibly honored to be a part of the organization.
Hot Topics of Today
If you haven’t already made plans to attend our annual meeting, then it’s not too late! The meeting will be held from Jan. 17 to Jan. 21, 2018, at the JW Marriott Starr Pass Resort in Tucson, Ariz. We have an exciting program planned with topics ranging from weed resistance and herbicide drift and volatilization management to employee retention to regulatory updates from the Environmental Protection Agency and USDA. Advocating for agriculture has become a recent concern for our organization, and several speakers will discuss that topic. Our keynote speaker this year is Robert Saik, agricultural futurist and founder of Agri-Trend in Alberta, Canada.
The program in its entirety, as well as other information about our organization and the upcoming meeting, is available at www.naicc.org. This will be an exciting meeting for any agriculture professional. Hope to see you there!