When Bon Jovi’s hit song “Livin’ on a Prayer” was released three decades ago, it quickly rose to the No. 1 spot on the Hot 100 chart on Valentine’s Day 1987, according to Billboard. The lyrics particularly appeared to resonate with hard-working people trying to “hold on to what we’ve got.”
Today, the phrase “livin’ on a prayer” has evolved into an anthem of sorts for anyone who seems to be facing insurmountable odds but is determined to overcome them and succeed. To me, this sounds a lot like the business of agriculture.
One of the most obvious challenges cotton farmers face is the weather. It comes in all forms: wind, rain, hail, hurricanes and drought, just to name a few.
On page 28, BASF’s Adam Hixson — whose territory includes West Texas — says, “The 2018 season was probably the roughest planting year since 2011, and 2011 was an epic drought. At the Lubbock International Airport, we saw 5 inches of rain last year when our average is about 18 inches. We don’t see a ton of rain anyway, but 5 inches was a drop in the bucket. Although we have some irrigated cotton, we need help from Mother Nature, too.”
Despite a daunting lack of moisture, the late-planted irrigated cotton pulled through and turned out pretty good. Farmers who had access to water were able to hold on to something even though most of the dryland acres were zeroed out.
In South Carolina, Clemson University’s Denise Attaway talks about the tough year cotton farmers had in 2018 with hurricanes, a government shutdown and trade issues. “Hurricanes Florence and Michael arrived during harvest, drowning the state and forcing farmers out of their fields,” she says on page 14. “In addition to hurricanes, farmers have been affected by the government shutdown, which kept government workers away from their offices and unable to assist growers.”
Whether in a literal or figurative sense, these producers were livin’ on a prayer in 2018, but they didn’t give up hope. Attaway says, “Reports during the South Carolina Cotton Growers Annual Meeting show steps are being taken to help farmers rebound in 2019.” Nathan Smith, a Clemson Extension agriculture economist who spoke during the meeting, says, “Based on what I see, cotton is set up to do well in 2019. If we produce as much as expected, we’ll need to increase our exports.”
The take-home here is although livin’ on a prayer tends to be used during agriculture’s desperate times, the phrase still holds hope for a successful outcome to those who keep the faith and work hard at what they do.