What is Agriculture?
It seems like a simple question.
This was one of the questions that I was asked in my interview to join the Valor II group. I have worked and lived in the agriculture all of my life and yet I found it exceedingly difficult to answer such a simple question that I should have been more than qualified to answer. Part of the reason this question is so difficult to quantify is that today’s agriculture takes so many different forms. From mega supermarkets to roadside vegetable stands, from organic products to GMO’s, today’s agriculture encompasses so many areas it is hard to cover them all in a short answer to the question.
Hello, my name is Adam Shiflett, and I grew up on a traditional production farm near New Hope, VA where we raised cattle, sheep, and had two poultry houses. Isn’t this what most people think of when you ask them about agriculture— feeding cows, working on tractors, and forking manure? However, after working as an agriculture loan officer for 15 years and now a team leader in the Harrisonburg Farm Credit www.farmcreditofvirginias.com office I can tell you that agriculture comes in all different forms, and it does not always look like cows and tractors.
In my years at Farm Credit we get to see many different types of agriculture and many different business ideas from people coming in wanting financing. Some of these look like traditional agriculture with a different twist, and some of them you really have to keep an open mind for. From growing tomatoes upside down, to selling shrimp out of a farm pond, and I even have one customer my team says would build grain bins on Mars if he could, you really have to admire the new ideas that ag producers bring in the office and the way agriculture is changing as a whole.
VALOR, Virginia Agriculture Leaders Obtaining Results explores all different facets of agriculture and I am excited to be a part of the second class. I am eager to learn about the agriculture diversity that the program and my fellow classmates have to share. I look forward to meeting many new people and sharing new ideas about agriculture over the next two years and having a lot of fun doing it. I have lived and worked all of my life in agriculture and am passionate about continuing to educate and improve all types of agriculture. I am sure that this program will be a life changing experience for me and I am planning on learning a great deal from my experiences and my classmates.
I am not ready to help irrigate corn on Mars just yet, but I am looking for a more complete answer to the question “What is agriculture?” and I am certain the next two years of VALOR will help me find the answer.