C magazine

Standing fast: Reflections from 2019

Young farm family standing near shed

Mark, left, and Mandy Westrom raise corn, soybeans and wheat near Barrett, Minn. They added acres as their parents retired and Mark’s father passed away in 2016. Mandy left her nursing career to work full-time on the farm. The Westroms are members of CHS Prairie Lakes.

Feb 28, 2020

Mandy Westrom, a farmer-owner from west-central Minnesota, spoke for farmers and ranchers everywhere in a moment of reflection at the 2019 CHS Annual Meeting in December. Her comments crystallized the difficult year and trying harvest season — and celebrated the perseverance of those who choose careers in agriculture. The following are excerpts from her comments at the annual meeting:

"For those who spend time in the confinement of an implement cab for extended periods of time during harvest, you know about time spent hashing the ins and outs of any farming season — the good, the bad and the unpleasant. 2019 was a season few of us will forget.

“My husband, Mark, is attempting to put to rest our 2019 season, so today I am flying solo, as many married farm couples do during the season. We do what is needed to get the job done, going separate ways to complete the tasks on our plates. We always have the end game in mind — we know eventually we will return to normalcy and face-to-face conversations.

Farmer Mandy Westrom speaking at 2019 CHS Annual Meeting

“I am happy to be here, as confinement to Stella, my 9420 John Deere 4x4 tractor, was getting to be too much. Pulling my grain cart over frozen ruts in the morning hours, then dreading the melt and the sinking fear of falling through the muddy muck on the last of our untiled fields was not something I was looking forward to. Thankfully, a dear friend also needed a change of pace and graciously took my spot in Stella for the final push.

“The challenges of the season have been raw and they have been real. Still, as always, we in agriculture are standing fast, standing firm and standing upright with both feet firmly planted on the earth. We survived 2019 and we should feel good about that.

“We are doing a job that others can’t or won’t do. Everyone makes choices. Thankfully, we chose agriculture. We are the early adopters, the risk-takers. We see opportunities and take them when others won’t.

“We grow more than food, fuel and fiber — we grow little humans who turn into productive people who contribute to society and see the value in our work. We nurture tribes of people in our towns, fostering communities and growing friendships. We look out for each other.

“We are a community of agriculture. We love our way of life. Through good times and difficult times, a tough day on the farm is still better than a day anywhere else.”

Check out the full C magazine with this article and more.