3-20-17Bill FamilyAs spring approaches, the tractors will begin filling fields as they prepare for planting. We often pass these without thought of who might be in them, but each of these farmers are working long hours to provide for their family. One such farmer in the tractor could be member Bill Long. Bill is the Illinois Corn Marketing Board District 10 Director. If you are given a chance to talk to a farmer, I would encourage you to take it! They have some of the best advice.

3-20-17GrassrootsBill started farming in 1980. Today he runs a corn and soybean operation in Franklin. His father has been his biggest influence in his life – even the one who inspired him to be a farmer. He experienced farming from a grassroots level, which helped him find his drive to farm. His father gave him some of the best advice… “Treat the land as you want to be treated, and it will take care of you in the end.” It has worked for Bill because he is still farming today!

3-20-17Farm PictureFarming isn’t always easy. There are periods when everyone struggles, such as now with $3.00 corn. I asked Bill how he would define success as a farmer. The answer? Longevity. Farming is a crazy field to be in. Being able to last is a big thing because you have to ride the ups and downs to survive. That is one important lesson that farming can teach you – Don’t take things for granted. You have to be flexible. There is a lot you can’t control with farming, so you have to roll with the punches.

3-20-17Bin ShadowsFarming isn’t always hard. Sometimes there are favorite parts. Such as photo opportunities, new life being born, and watching the crops grow. Bill’s favorite season is planting and harvesting. When he plants, he is putting the seeds in the ground. Watching them grow is his favorite part because that is the future of the farm. Harvest is when he gets to reap the benefits of his labor. A lot of hard work, sweat, and time has gone into getting that crop ready. Sometimes there are lots of smiles involved to go with the hard times.

So, next time you drive past the tractor plowing a field or planting the crop this spring, think about who they are. Each of them has a story to tell and much advice to give. They are more than machine operators. They are family… fathers, grandfathers, sons, daughters, wive, granddaughters.


Jaylynn Maxey
The University of Illinois

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