One of the big questions in the cotton industry is what does the millennial generation think about farming in today’s economic environment? The market is not that great, inputs are costly, and the global trade situation is iffy at times.
If you are a “Facebooker,” or an “Instagramer,” you’ve probably seen numerous videos and comments posted by these young farmers about their operations. Or you may have had mentoring conversations with them about walking “into the unknown.” It can be scary, and it can be rewarding.
The bottom line to me is this generation is smart, fearless and has the guidance of those who came before to assist them. Take, for example, Don and Betty Lynn who have farmed cotton together as husband and wife in the Missouri Bootheel for 62 years. The stories they shared with me for the cover story are informative as well as entertaining.
They recalled nights spent in the field trying to beat the rain and pick as much cotton as possible. They caught midnight naps on top of the module builder and then pushed on to gather the crop before Mother Nature ran them out.
After a particularly trying day spent managing the logistics of their watermelon operation that supplemented the cotton farm, Betty said matter-of-factly, “Don, I always wondered what hell would be like, and I found out today.”
But she is a hard worker and has a good sense of humor. Betty doesn’t let day-to-day challenges get in the way of running a successful operation with her husband. Don and Betty Lynn are not intimidated by the unknowns they have faced and overcome through the years. And they will be the first to tell you they love growing cotton.
The lyrics of the popular tune from the movie Frozen 2, “Into The Unknown,” say, “I’m afraid of what I’m risking if I follow you into the unknown. But don’t you know there’s part of me that longs to go into the unknown?”
And like the Lynns, the young farmers who have chosen to go there are certainly capable of succeeding. They may be inspired by watching young seedlings emerge across the field or something as small as the presence of their toddler riding along in the harvester.
After taking it all in, they understand what they are risking and even smile as they venture into the unknown without ever looking back. As we embark on a new season, I’m convinced the future of the cotton industry is in good hands.
Happy New Year!