At the conclusion of the 19th annual Farm Press Peanut Efficiency Awards breakfast, July 21,Marshall Lamb, research leader at the USDA-ARS National Peanut Lab in Dawson, Ga., sent the audience on its way with a benediction worthy of a protestant minister.
He thumbed his smart phone for a few seconds and then asked us to “listen to the words in Psalms 100:5. ‘For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.’”
That’s an appropriate thought, he said, considering the comments and the experience of the PEA class of 2018 regarding farm succession. Lamb pointed out that two of the winners are young men, easing into family farms. Mason Becker, Terry County, Texas, received the honor while his two young sons, his wife and his parents watched with obvious pride.
Atwood “At” MacIntosh, 38, an eighth generation farmer from Kingstree, S.C., works alongside his dad. The family has been farming in the area since the time of the Revolutionary War.
Now At is making his own mark, bringing in new ideas, including making and selling shirts from his own cotton. The fiber is grown, ginned, spun and sewn in South Carolina.
The third, Jimmy Miller, Snead, Ala., is in his 70s and is turning more and more responsibility over to his nephew, Lance, who also attended the breakfast with his wife and two children, who may one day want to farm.
Miller is happy to have a family member take over a farm he’s poured his soul into for decades.
Lamb, who has been the lead advisor for the PEA program since its inception, said farmers understand the legacy of a farm that transfers from generation to generation and the blessing that passes to each new farmer who takes on the responsibility of nurturing the soil.
During a question and answer session following the award presentation, the three winners talked a bit about transition, about one generation learning from another, about one generation passing along wisdom that may have gone through several grandfathers to fathers to sons (and daughters). They talked about how the older generation learns new techniques from the younger one. They say transitions have run smoothly as each age group learns from and respects the contributions of the other.
All three winners humbly accepted the award and said all they accomplish is not possible “without the Good Lord’s blessing.” They acknowledged their families and said they could not do what they do without family help, which involves raising children, paying bills and driving tractors.
Farm succession can be unsettling when parties disagree on who will take over, when the change will occur and what the elder’s role will be in the new system.
But, as the Psalm says, love endures and “faithfulness continues through all generations.”