What is a “Farmer”?

When you google the definition of a farmer it reads “a person who owns or manages a farm” simple, right?

It is not that simple and farmers are more skilled than they are given credit for. Farming is a profession unlike any other. The average work day starts at 8 or 9 a.m. A farmer begins at 5 a.m. or before. A farmer’s success is heavily based on Mother Nature’s temperament all year long. Can you replant a tomato plant? Sure. Can you replant 160 acres of corn? Not usually. If something goes wrong such as, crop failure or too much rain, he has to wait until the next growing season to plant the next crop.

A farmer is the 24/7, on call, care taker for his livestock, the mechanic for his tractors, the agronomist for his crop, the commodity broker and financial advisor for his farm, and the weatherman. Sure a farmer can hire people to manage each of these positions but, as with everything else it comes at a price.

Care Taker – 365 days a year livestock need food, water, and care from a farmer. Livestock don’t have scheduled births like humans can. When it is calving season farmers are on call 24 hours a day. The farmer has to make sure his cow has a successful live birth. Dairy farmers are the early risers, up before the rooster crows to milk their cows. We take for granted what farmers do and how hard they work to provide safe and healthy food for us.

IMG_2060Mechanic – From turning wrenches to setting up GPS and auto-steer, farmers today have to be kept current on basic mechanics as well as precision Ag technology. When rain is in the forecast during planting or harvest break downs and down time are not an option. If there is a break down, a farmer uses his wrenching ability. Their livelihood depends on their tractors and equipment working as they should.

Agronomist – Once the crop has been planted farmers just head to Florida for a few months right? Actually no, they are out scouting their fields looking for the inevitable crop damage caused by insects, weeds, and diseases. While searching for these pests, they are also surveying what their crop may need throughout the growing season. When an issue is found three factors effect decision making: can this problem be safely and effectively controlled, will the result of control be economically advantageous, and is there sufficient time to implement agronomic remedies.

Commodity Broker and Financial Advisor – After harvest a farmer has grain to sell. The two basic factors farmers consider when effectively marketing their commodities are the commodity’s price and timely sale. At the end of the season a farmer sits down and crunches numbers. He/she has worked hard all year, but now it is time to evaluate how much money they made. Based off of these numbers they will make adjustments as needed and prepare for next year’s farming season.IMG_3384

Weatherman and Biological Factor– A farmer’s livelihood depends on what Mother Nature has in store for that season. A farmer only gets 40-50 tries to perfect the art of farming. Farmers typically can only grow one of the same crop per year. With this in mind farmers have to be proactive with their decision making and stay up to date on all agronomic farming practices.

Farmers are not just people who own or manage a farm.  As a farmer works through his life long career he will take care of the land and livestock as they have taken care of him. Farmers wear many hats and work hard everyday to keep their families fed as well as the rest of the world. Paul Harvey said it best with, “So God made a farmer”. I highly encourage you to listen. Paul Harvey – So God Made A Farmer


Hello I’m Austin Smith. I graduated from Macomb High School. I attended Spoon River College in Macomb for two years then transferred to Western Illinois University. I am a senior Ag Business major with an emphasis in Agronomy graduating May 2016.



8 thoughts on “What is a “Farmer”?

  1. lauradenisee

    This is an interesting way on how to describe a farmer and shows just how many hats a farmer can wear all in one day. There isn’t just one definition and you describe that really well in your article.


  2. Randall Artis

    Man hats off to you for writing such a great blog post. I really enjoyed reading it and actually shared it with my friends on facebook. I can speak for my dad that who never had more than a high school education it falls into all those categories that you have listed in this article. It amazed me that many of our older generation managed to do all these things with the lack of a college education and have been successful. It goes to show that you dont have to a college education to do great things and to learn many things. My father is one of the most educated men I know and all his learning has came from trial and error over the years while successfully operating our family farm. Some folks just dont get how much time farmers actually put in to make everything work and to make a living. Thanks again for the read well done


  3. nakbrown1990

    Before i came to WIU, i didnt realize the value of farmers! i never knew exactly what a farmer did and i honestly didnt care to know. i look at farming and the whole ag industry completely different now that i’ve witnessed first hand only SOME of the things a farmer does. I also learned that farmers dont wear overalls and carry pitchforks around!


  4. jce110

    Awesome read. I think you really did a good job of covering how diverse farmers are. Farmers are never afraid to learn to do something new.


  5. Justin Wood

    Great article Austin. As a farmer myself i can agree with all of this. Anymore the average person is so far removed from agriculture.


  6. kylekreps

    this was a good read. I have had first hand experience with this. I know what it is like to have so many jobs as I have been a farm hand for the past 6 years. people really don’t understand what it takes to be a farmer.


  7. anh424

    I really enjoyed reading your blog. It was very unique how you gave the actual definition of a farmer, that you would find if you looked it up on the computer and then really went into detail about what a “farmer” truly is.


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