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The American Dream Still Exists, But Only If We Work For It

Ive driven close to 20,000 miles already in 2024, traveling coast-to-coast to speak at agricultural conferences across America.

Its a joy, honor, and privilege to share my story, connect with fellow farmers and ranchers, acknowledge the challenges that face agriculturalists today, and most importantly, explore real solutions to the problems that exist in our industry. 

Along the way, Ive been fortunate to meet the best of the best people real salt of the earth folks, who would drop everything to help you if you needed it. These folks are honest, hard-working, authentic, and caring, and they make up the heart of rural America.

They have become friends, colleagues, mentors, and peers, and their stories inspire me, fill my cup, and fuel me to keep moving forward as together we fight for a brighter future for this country.

Its not all sunshine and rainbows though. Sometimes the weight of the challenges facing small family agricultural businesses keep me up at night. I worry about the future of this country, and the direction things are headed.

Its frustrating and troubling, and yet, Ive realized one critically important lesson in life if there is no true political will to solve the challenges our nation faces, then we must be the solutions we hope to see.

We can no longer afford to be apathetic. We simply cannot sit on the sidelines and complain. We must engage and get involved where and when we can, and it starts at home.

That might look like running for political office yourself, so votes reflect the true will of the people.

It could look like serving on your school board or as a county commissioner. 

It might be volunteering at your church or mentoring youth in the community.

It could be starting a new business, sourcing products close to home, and employing teens in the community to give them their first job experience to prepare them for the real world.

Its more than voting once a year in a voting booth; its voting with your dollars. Are you keeping dollars circulating close to home in your rural communities? Do you shop main street instead of automatically choosing the online delivery service from the big box stores?

Do you support families who are trying to run businesses in town? They are the first to sponsor the FFA chapters, baseball teams, and other fundraisers that benefit the community.

Do you take pride in your rural main street? If not, what can you do to fix it? 

Are you working to create new pathways for success for the motivated and talented young people in your hometown? Instead of outsourcing our next generation to the big cities, do we ask ourselves how we can keep them invested in our communities close to home?

A servants heart, a love of your neighbor, and a hope for the future is the recipe for success to keep rural America alive for generations to come. Its doing whats right, and taking pride in an honest days work. Its seeing a problem that exists, and fixing it. Its tackling on the tough jobs when nobody else is willing to do it. 

And if we all step up to do one thing and we square up to the challenges that exist in this country through the private sector, then I truly believe our country could shift directions in short order.

However, if all we do is complain about corrupt politicians and negative headlines on the evening news, then well be stuck in the direction they choose for us. I believe the spirit of the American people is still alive and well in this country, and freedom, opportunity, and the American dream will continue to exist. But only if we work for it.

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