By John Schlageck, Kansas Farm Bureau

Almost every farmer has said in one way or another, “My life begins with the land.” Look at it any way you want but this bedrock principle remains as it has for generations. Land ownership is the key to farming and ranching. Farmers are proud of the crops they grow and the land they work.

From the time our first ancestors dropped seeds into the ground to today’s farmer who uses global positioning satellite, they were and are linked to the land. It’s who they are and defines the vocation they have chosen.

Many Kansas farmers and ranchers have raised their families, crops and livestock on ground that has been in their families for generations – for some more than 100 years. When producers farm land that long it becomes part of them. It is their way of life. Something they do each and every day. A vocation that always occupies their time and mind.

The land is something they cherish and love. Seeing it bring life to the seeds they sow is an experience farmers anticipate each year. They look forward to cultivating the crop and protecting it from insects that would cut yields and rob grain from people who depend on this precious food source.

Farmers also anticipate the coming of each year’s harvest when they gather the fruits of another year’s labor. Not only do this nation’s farmers produce great quantities of grain but they also take pride in producing a top-quality product – one of the finest and healthiest in the world.

Farmers often take better care of their land and livestock than they do themselves. The fondest wish of most farmers is to pass their land on to their children. They work for years, and often a lifetime, to leave a legacy of good land stewardship.

Most farmers learn about conservation and respect for their land from their parents. They continually seek new and better ways to work their soil to ensure they are able to pass it on to succeeding generations.

One farmer friend once told me, “If I thought for one minute I was ruining my land, I’d give up farming.”

Land is the lifeblood of a farmer or rancher whether it helps them produce grain or livestock. Producers have a deep-seated feeling of honor to be the owner and caretaker of land that has been in their families for generations.

They understand that one day they will pass from this earth but the land will remain. They strive to leave the land in better condition.

These stewards of the soil realize their ancestors came to this country and settled with the belief that it was the land of opportunity for them and future generations of their families. They hope their children will see this investment in the land the same way and leave the farm in better condition for their children.

Land is sacred for Kansas farmers and ranchers. They take their stewardship seriously. They’ve devoted their lives to safeguarding their farms and families while providing us with the safest, most wholesome food in the world.

John Schlageck is a leading commentator on agriculture and rural Kansas. Born and raised on a diversified farm in northwestern Kansas, his writing reflects a lifetime of experience, knowledge and passion.