Meet Overton County Farmer Willard Brown

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Farmer Willard Brown

The Dirt on the Farm

Farm Family: My wife and I farm with our sons and one grandchild.

Farm Legacy: Our grandchild makes the seventh generation to farm. My great-great-great-grandfather came to Overton County in late 1820 or early 1821 to begin farming.

Farm Location: Rickman in Overton County

Crops/Livestock: Greenhouse, tobacco, hay, silage, Angus beef cattle and truck farming.

Farm Bureau Membership: I joined the Overton County Farm Bureau in November 1989 and became a member of the county’s board of directors in August 1997. I served as vice president from 1998 to 2001 and president from 2001 to present.

Why do you farm?
My wife and I both grew up on a farm, and we both like the lifestyle. I have known people who worked at a job they hated, but it provided a way for them to live the lifestyle of their choice. We farm because there is a great deal of satisfaction in farming. It also requires a certain amount of love to farm. Farming is hard, challenging, frustrating and sometimes economically unrewarding. Choosing to farm brings a complete package; it brings a vocation and a lifestyle that is more rewarding than any monetary compensation. Farmers don’t farm to be able to have the lifestyle they desire. It comes as a package deal – vocation and lifestyle.

Why do you think it is important to tell the story of agriculture?
Preceding generations maintained a relationship with farms and farmers, but today that link is very thin and weak. There is a significant number of the urban and sometimes rural population who have no concept of where their food comes from or what it takes to provide it for them. They honestly believe that you just go to the grocery store, and they will provide. I also believe that because of the lessening of the tie of farms, farming and farmers, there has been a widening of the lifestyles, and understanding of those lifestyles. This broad difference in views means we must work harder to get our message across.

What are some of the challenges and blessings on your farm?
The challenges are some government regulations and harassment from many special interest groups that don’t understand anything about farming but rather just need a cause to keep the donations flowing. Another challenge of running a farming operation is the ever-present challenge of the weather, which comes with each season. However, the greatest blessing is the ability to raise your family in a lifestyle that exposes them to life and all its wonderful facets.

Are you Farm Bureau proud?
My family and I are Farm Bureau proud for very specific reasons. When there were more farmers, various groups pitted one commodity group against another for self-interest. Today, they still try this tactic. We are Farm Bureau proud because Farm Bureau represents all farmers fairly, they don’t pit one group against another, and everyone at the grassroots level has a voice in the actions that are taken. Farm Bureau works to promote and protect agriculture, and this makes us proud.

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