Characteristics of a Farmer – The Farmer’s Creed

old barn door the farmers creed poemEarlier this month we reflected on Paul Harvey’s “So God Made a Farmer” from 1978. Those values and characteristics of a farmer hold true today, just as they did when they were first recited at the National FFA Convention. Folks can pick them apart and ridicule, saying the modern farmer has changed, but I believe those characteristics are things we still strive to be more like.

Looking back at the Farmer poem, reminded me of a portrait in the basement of a house I once lived in. On the back wall next to the cattle trophies and plaques from historical stock shows was a picture frame with a simple poem of 12 lines that describe the author’s belief in the capabilities of farming.

I believe a man’s greatest possession is his dignity and that no calling bestows this more abundantly than farming.

I believe hard work and honest sweat are the building blocks of a person’s character.

I believe that farming, despite hardships and disappointments, is the most honest and honorable way a man can spend his days on this earth.

I believe farming nurtures the close family ties that make life rich in many ways that money can’t buy.

I believe my children are learning values that will last a lifetime and can be learned in no other way.

I believe farming provides education for life that no other occupation teaches so much about birth, growth, and maturity in such a variety of ways.

I believe many of the best things in life are indeed free: the splendor of a sunrise, the rapture of wide open spaces, the exhilarating sight of your land greening each spring.

I believe that true happiness comes from watching your crops ripen in the field, your children grow tall in the sun, your whole family feel the pride that springs from their shared experience.

I believe that by my toil I am giving more to the world than I am taking from it, an honor that does not come to all men.

I believe that my life will be measured ultimately by what I have done for my fellowman, and by this standard I fear no judgement.

I believe when a man grows old and sums up his days, he should be able to stand tall and feel pride in the life he’s lived.

I believe in farming because it makes all this possible.

I can’t nail down a specific date or author for “The Farmers Creed” other than it was once printed in a New Holland publication. One source cites Mr. Frank I. Mann, an Illinois Corn Farmer, as the likely author circa 1915.

Apparently, this is Mann’s version of “The Farmer’s Creed” from nearly 100 years ago:

I believe in a permanent agriculture; a soil that will grow richer rather than poorer from year to year.

I believe in 100-bushel corn and in 50-bushel wheat, and I shall not be satisfied with anything less.

I believe that the only good weed is a dead weed, and that a clean farm is as important as a clean conscience.

I believe in the farm boy and in the farm girl, the farmer’s best crops, the future’s best hope.

I believe in the farm woman and will do all in my power to make her life easier and happier.

I believe in the country school that prepares for country life and a country church that teaches its people to love deeply and live honorably.

I believe in community spirit, a pride in home and neighbors, and I will do my part to make my community the best in the State.

I believe in the farmer, I believe in farm life, I believe in the inspiration of the open country.

I am proud to be a farmer, and I will try earnestly to be worthy of the name.

Call them idealistic. Call them old fashioned. Either way I think these are good words to believe in.

What is your favorite line from the pieces?

About Ryan Goodman (1109 Articles)
Ryan Goodman lives in Helena, Montana, but grew up on a family cattle ranch in Arkansas. He has spent the last several years learning about farming systems across the country, living in Oklahoma, Texas, Wyoming and Tennessee. He is a proud Animal Science graduate of Oklahoma State University and has completed graduate level research at the University of Tennessee, focusing on beef cattle reproduction and nutrition. Outside of advocacy, Ryan is a novice runner, with goals of accomplishing his first Marathon in 2016, and enjoys refueling with a good steak. #TeamBeef!

16 Comments on Characteristics of a Farmer – The Farmer’s Creed

  1. There is no dignity in receiving subsidies and running animal warehouses. Today’s modern Agriculture cannot keep using the face of the farmer of old, who actually worked the land and animals together in proper rotation which buit the healthy soils and had diversity. The dignity is in knowing you provided good wholesome, nutritious foods to your neighbor, from foods grown on your own farm and processed there on. When we get on farm processing again, there will be pride and dignity in being a farmer. Rugged independence is what we need, not to be serfs beholden to big Corps, which is what modern ag is all about these days.


    • Thanks for the comment and opinion Bernadette. I think if a person gets out, they’ll find that those characteristics and values still exist with many farmers and ranchers across the country. They’re not all under the control of corporate entities as some would have us believe. To each his own, and we should be thankful for the opportunity of choice in this country.


      • Thanks for the post Mr. Goodman, and providing a forum for discussion. But there is no choice or to each his own, when one cannot get his cattle to market. The big boys control all the slaughter houses through the regulatory process. When one must travel 3 hours, one way, to a Federally inspected facility for one or two cows the profit drops out. It is demeaning for one to be subsidizing the other when the “other” is denying profit to the independent farmer. As I am sure you would agree, small shops do not need the intensive regulatory structure that larger facilities mandate. Smaller operations are transparent, and provide for a small community. Americans are denied opportunity of choice when they cannot buy direct from the farmer of their choice, as I am sure you would agree. As Americans we believe in freedom.


      • Hi Ryan and Bernadette,

        I agree that not every farmer is a factory farmer. But for how much longer? From the way that things are going it seems inevitable, unless we start making some serious policy changes.

        Is there some way to make the distinction between the ‘local’ farmer and commodity agriculture and factory farms? We can’t just all be thrown in the same lot. And us awesome farmers shouldn’t be doing all the work of advocating for the bad apples😉


    • Many due not realize how states differ in regulations and that not all farmers are completing on a level field. Lessons can be learned from a State like Virginia.


      • Food Regulations dont vary from state to state. Milk is independent of Federal control so far. States may allow raw milk ( farmer direct) sales or deny them. The Feds control all the meat regardless if it is intrastate ( bred, born, slaughtered, butchered and consumed within the borders of a state) or interstate commerce. We need to get the feds out of the states slaughterhouses if its only intrastate sales. It is also rather ridiculous that I cannot grow sweet potatoes and turn them into sweet potatoe pie with my own pecan crumb topping from my own tree, own eggs and own milk and sell it to my neighbor… It is deemed by the FDA as a “Potentially Hazardous Food” (There is an entire chapter in FDA Code on that) although other pies would be OK for me to sell. If any foods are grown, raised and eaten with in the borders of a state the Feds should not have any say. The Sedgwick Maine case was BEAUTIFUL in that regard. Much can be learned from Sedgewick, Maine with regards to food and farming laws. Virginia has only begun her fight for food and farming rights.


      • Typo correction for my orig reply.. Food Reg’s DO vary from state to state. Although, many states adopt Federal guidelines regarding food laws for their own.


  2. Great post – I loved it. By far my favorite line is:

    I believe many of the best things in life are indeed free: the splendor of a sunrise, the rapture of wide open spaces, the exhilarating sight of your land greening each spring.

    So true! Thanks for posting

    ~Taylor-Made Ranch~
    Wolfe City, Texas


  3. I prefer the second creed myself, mainly because it actually highlights the farm woman. I loved the “So God Made a Farmer” commercial but my only complaint was that there were only two females in the whole commercial (and one was a child). Women are a huge part of the farming and agriculture industry but unfortunately, do not always seem to get equal attention or appreciation.

    I can understand where these authors are coming from and the true passion they feel for agriculture. It’s a feeling that holds you tight and gets you through all of the trial and tribulations that come with farm life. Nothing makes me happier than living on a farm, absolutely nothing.


    • Thanks Courtney for the comment. Rather than looking at who was/wasn’t represented in these or other segments, I think we should be thankful for the positive message portrayed about agriculture. I don’t think RAM was aiming to exclude any particular groups, and if you take a look at the actual census numbers, the advertisement actually over-represented minority groups in agriculture. No discount to those groups. I hope they continue to grow. I just ask that we appreciate the positive messages being shared because farmers as a whole are a minority.


  4. These are my favorite lines. I grew up on a farm in the 1980’s with my parents, grandparents and uncle and I find this to be 100 pecent true!

    I believe farming nurtures the close family ties that make life rich in many ways that money can’t buy.

    I believe my children are learning values that will last a lifetime and can be learned in no other way.


  5. Mr. Goodman, I absolutely love this! Thank you so much for sharing it. I have a daily radio program and would love to get it on air. Please email me:
    Thank you Ryan, Trinity Lewis


  6. “I believe my children are learning values that will last a lifetime and can be learned in no other way.” This is one of my favorite line from the pieces. I think each line is important though. I picked this one because I was one of the chilren raised on a farm, and I feel I learned my values through the way we live.


  7. You might want to look up “I’m Just a Farmer, Plain and Simple” by Bobby Collier. It is a nice poem along the same lines as this.

    LGI Farms


  8. I had never heard this poem before but I really enjoyed it! My favorite line by far was:
    “I believe many of the best things in life are indeed free: the splendor of a sunrise, the rapture of wide open spaces, the exhilarating sight of your land greening each spring.”

    The best things in life are free and I love how it paints an amazing picture of rolling hills and beautiful countryside.

    Thanks for sharing and keep telling your story!


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