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Farmers: Our real-life superheroes

Iowa pig farmers

This Halloween, I expect to see quite a few kids dressed as superheroes or ninjas at my door, reciting their favorite trick-or-treat jokes that they’ve been practicing for weeks. (“What did the ghost eat for dinner? Spooketi!”)

Yet as parents, we want our kids to know that real-life superheroes don’t wear capes. We’re also thankful for the brave firefighters, police officers, military and vets, teachers, health care professionals and more who step up to protect and care for us in our time of need.

I also believe that farmers deserve to be on the list of everyday heroes.

After all, it takes true courage for farmers to plant a seed in the spring, watch the crop endure Iowa’s ever-challenging weather and pests in the summer, and hope it will yield a bountiful harvest in the fall.

It takes courage to drive a tractor or combine along a busy highway, with traffic zooming impatiently around you, because it’s the only way to get the crop from field to market.

It takes courage for farmers to get up at 3 a.m. every day to milk the cows, even though right now the milk checks farmers receive won’t be enough to cover their bills, let alone their hours of hard work. It takes courage for a young farmer to ask the local bank for a loan to build a hog or cattle barn, not knowing whether an international trade war or an animal-disease outbreak will put them out of business.

And it takes courage for farmers to continually try to learn, improve and adopt new conservation or animal care practices, even though it might cost them in tight financial times and there’s no guarantee that the science (or public opinion) won’t change.

Farmers do this all because it’s their calling - to give back to others, to grow and raise our food.

That’s why farmers also serve on school boards and volunteer for the local fire department. They read books to their kids at bedtime after checking to make sure their cattle are warm and fed.

So next time you see a farmer, be sure to tell your kids they are meeting a real-life superhero. Because not all heroes wear capes. Sometimes they wear muddy boots, leather work gloves and Carhartt jackets.

By Teresa Bjork. Teresa is Iowa Farm Bureau's senior features writer.