Santa must be a farmer

I hope everyone had a lovely holiday and are prepared for the New Year.

The New Year is a time when we set goals for ourselves and I’d like to issue you a challenge. I want to challenge you to truly learn about food and agriculture here in the Valley and across the country.

Before I begin the heart of my article, here are some great resources and I urge you to check them out:

These resources will get you started. Now, onto the good stuff.

Right before the holidays on social media, a good portion of my farmer friends posted a cute photo that listed the 10 reasons that Santa could be compared to a farmer. The list looked like this:

10. He takes care of the needs of the world.

9. He covers a lot of ground in a hurry when the pressure is on.

8. He is used to getting in and out of tight places.

7. His wife is an excellent cook.

6. He could stand to lose a few pounds (see reason #7).

5. He is good with kids.

4. He works outside, even in bad weather.

3. He knows how to get by with the same equipment season after season.

2. He is good with livestock.

1. He works all year, just to give his stuff away (according to NORAD, he gave away 7 million presents this year).

So I started thinking, how do my farmer friends and I compare to Santa, and here is the comparison.

10. Ohio farmers are number one in the production of Swiss cheese, second in egg production, third in processed tomatoes, fifth in the growing of fresh tomatoes (over 1 million pounds) an 16th in the production of beef. Ohio farmers make sure many people in the country and world eat.

9. Trumbull County farmers planted 3,939 acres of total cropland in 2012 and had 8,117 acres of pastureland. That is a lot of ground to plant and grass to maintain, so it is not surprising that your local farmers might not have a lot of time to visit in the spring, summer or fall.

8. Unfortunately, this one is a sad statistic. While farmers may be very good at maneuvering machinery and themselves in small spaces and tight spots, our job is very dangerous. Tractors on average claim 125 lives a year, followed by grain bin / silo deaths, and manure pits. Most victims of farm accidents, nearly 20 percent, are younger than 20.

7. While I am not married, I am a great cook. I have also never met a farm wife, girlfriend or woman who cannot make a delicious meal at a moment’s notice. Let me specify here, sometimes a sandwich thrown together with leftovers in the refrigerator and eaten while driving the tractor is as delicious as a steak at a fancy restaurant.

6. Farmers, as well as all people, can suffer from obesity. It is a serious matter that can make it hard for us to accomplish No. 8, can lead to increased chances of No. 8, and can be caused by all those hours we spend doing No. 9.

5. Kids love tractors and baby animals, but more than that, it is estimated that 258,835 youth younger than 20 work on farms. Some of these youth work for their parents or families and others use it as an employment opportunity or a chance to get into agriculture.

4. You’ll find us outside in the sunshine, rain, sleet, hail, wind or anything else Mother Nature throws at us. Our job is 365 days a year, seven days a week.

3. The average cost of a tractor is between $45,000 to $200,000. Farmers are used to repairing, reusing and recycling parts and pieces to keep their machinery running as long as possible.

2. Ohio farmers rank 16th in beef production in the U.S. There are 1.47 million cattle, 2 million pigs, 115,000 sheep and 29,900 bees; we might be missing the reindeer.

1. Farmers rarely have a season off. Livestock farmers take care of their livestock year-round, while crop farmers are beginning to plant more winter crops.

Overall, I would say that my farmer friends and I are pretty close to Santa, at least in my mind. So just like Santa, I’ll head back to my farm to make plans for next year. But before I go, I send you wishes for a healthy, happy, safe and wonderful 2016.

Clemson is a member of the Trumbull County Farm Bureau and working on her Ph.D. at the Pennsylvania State University. She and her family farm in Mecca.