National Ag Day serves as an annual opportunity to recognize and celebrate the abundance provided by agriculture across the United States, as well as the role ag plays in providing economic and food security to the nation.

In honor of National Ag Day, AEM spoke with a few members of the association's Ag Sector Board, who discussed their memories of growing up on a farm, how their experiences shaped their careers, and why it’s so important for people both inside and outside the industry to recognize ag's role in society today.

AEM: What are some of the fondest memories you have of growing up on a farm?

Todd Stucke, Senior Vice President Sales, Marketing & Product Support, Kubota: My five brothers and I grew up on a potato farm in Ohio, and three of them celebrated a birthday around the same time in May. One year we threw a party for them, and I remember they spent the day planting potatoes in the field right outside our family home. Well, all I wanted to do was drive the tractor. And I can remember my father saying, “You know, one of these years I’m going to be sitting here in the house in my easy chair, and the tractors are going to be driving themselves.” I was devastated to hear him say that, because all I wanted to do was drive a tractor. I’ll never forget that, because it’s probably what drove me to build my career in this industry, work to advance ag equipment technology, and continually support the advancement of agriculture.

Matt Daley, President, GEA Farm Technologies: I have so many fond memories of growing up on a farm. There were a lot of long days, but my family and I had a lot of fun. I have four brothers and two sisters, and we’re all close in age. We’re still a tight-knit group today, and it’s probably as a result of all the work we did together over the years. We always look back on those days with such joy. Even my children had an opportunity to work on the farm when they were young. They got a chance to milk cows, come home smelling like manure and work their tails off – just like I did. Looking back at growing up on the farm, I can honestly say it’s one of the best experiences of my life, and it’s defined who I am. I truly have the utmost respect for the farmers of today, and I appreciate all of the incredible relationships I’ve developed over the years thanks to agriculture.

Mark D. Core, Vice President, Vermeer Corporation: I remember when I was growing up the school bus would go past our home farm, turn around and come back toward our house. In the spring, if I was on the bus and saw my father in the field working, I couldn’t wait to get home and sit on the fender of our old 560 tractor. Today it probably wouldn’t be considered the safest thing to do, but I would ride for hours with him. I really think that’s what inspired my passion for agriculture. Those hours spent with my dad in the field also helped me foster connections with our current customers at Vermeer, many of whom have similar memories. 

 

Daley "Looking back at growing up on the farm, I can honestly say it’s one of the best experiences of my life, and it’s defined who I am," said Matt Daley, president, GEA Farm Technologies. "I truly have the utmost respect for the farmers of today."

 

 AEM: How have those memories and experiences growing up on farm helped shape your career and impact your perspective on agriculture?

Daley: Farming has evolved so much over the years. It’s just changed so much, and it will continue to do so. As the leader of my organization, I know what I went through all those years on the farm, so I tell my team to be ready for change that’s coming. Because it will continue to change, and certainly not always in a way you may expect.

Core: I really wish consumers would all have a chance to go behind the scenes and see just how farmers take care of their animals and their land. They truly possess a passion to do things right. My experiences, my knowledge, and the fact that I’m still active in farming operations today have allowed me to recognize that while there are more stable things to do in life than to be an agriculturist, nothing is more noble than devoting one’s life to feeding the world.

Stucke: I’m still actively involved in family farm today. We’re a third-generation farm, my brother and I own it, and it’s a couple thousand acres. My experiences farming allow me to actually see the advancements of the technology and the equipment first-hand, as well as understand the effects of regulatory issues. And at Kubota, when we’re tasked with making decisions about what we do in the future, I always heed the voice of the customer. I reflect on what our customers have to say, and it’s easier to understand it because I’ve worked with my hands, I’ve driven tractors, I’ve paid bills, and I see what goes on from a farmer’s perspective.

 

Core

 "My experiences, my knowledge, and the fact that I’m still active in farming operations today have allowed me to recognize that while there are more stable things to do in life than to be an agriculturist, nothing is more noble than devoting one’s life to feeding the world," said Mark D. Core, vice president, Vermeer Corporation. 

 

AEM: Why is it so important for people to celebrate National Ag Day and understand the importance of agriculture to our society?

Core: Everyone in agriculture possesses a desire to feed the world in a healthy and efficient way, and there’s just a deep personal connection between the work they do and what I experienced as a child who spent his formative years on a small, diversified farm in Pleasantville, Iowa.

Stucke: We all have to eat, and ag brings the food that we put on our tables. I believe society is linked together by ag, and from that link comes everything from the meat and vegetables you eat to the milk you drink.

Daley:  It’s so important for us to honor the extraordinary contributions North America has on feeding the world. We’re one of the largest exporters, if not the largest exporter, in the world today. And we can celebrate the fact that we have a lengthy history of providing food, and that we’ve been able to overcome a lot over the years to continue to feed the world. I can say National Ag Day is special to me because of my history and my past, much like it’s special to a lot of people in this country. That’s why it’s so important to commemorate the efforts of the farmers who have gotten us to where we are today.

 

Stucke

 "All I wanted to do was drive a tractor," said Todd Stucke, senior vice president sales, marketing & product support, Kubota. "I’ll never forget that, because it’s probably what drove me to build my career in this industry, work to advance ag equipment technology, and continually support the advancement of agriculture."

 

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