Hello, my name is Brandon Williamson and I will be joining my good friend Jeffrey Klose in telling the stories of American Agriculture. When I was first approached about participating in this blog I found myself jumping at the opportunity to be a part of such a noble idea!
It seems that the American agriculture industry has come under more scrutiny in the last decade than at any other time in history. As our country becomes increasingly urban, our population becomes more disconnected with the source of their food supply. In many cases, today’s average American does not know (or worse, does not care) where their food comes from just so long as it is cheap. I often refer to this as AGRICULTURAL ILLITERACY. This epidemic has resulted in a breeding ground for organizations such as PETA and HSUS to press their agenda on the uninformed.
As those organizations continue to “vilify” the hard working men and women who provide the food in their stomachs, I look forward to this blog being the voice of truth…to show the compassion and humanity of the American Agriculturist.
Hands Pictured Above: Brandon Williamson Age:30
Involvement in Agriculture:
I currently work as an agricultural science teacher in Burleson, Texas. I am more or less just like the typical American citizen. I have never lived through a situation where production agriculture was the basis of my family’s survival. In fact, I would consider my family to be “recreational farmers” as both of my parents had jobs outside the agricultural sector.
I grew up on land that belonged to my grandfather. On that land, we had a very diverse enterprise ranging from barbado sheep on native west Texas rangeland, to small plots of wheat utilized for grazing terminal cattle. As a high school FFA member, I branched out on my own to include a 32 sow commercial hog operation.
The diversity of my agricultural experience has served me well as I entered into the realm of high school education. The 7 years have allowed me to teach production agriculture in a very urbanized school district. I have learned that information I knew as a 5 year old regarding where my food and clothes comes from is considered profound knowledge to not only high school students but to many of their parents as well.
Most Difficult Moment in Agriculture:
While all agriculturists can recall a struggle or two along their paths, some strike a blow that is deeper penetrating than others and thus often times more educational in the long run. For me that blow came as a sophomore in high school. I was given the opportunity to strike out on my own and given the chance to make my own production decisions. As I ventured into the commercial hog industry, I worked really hard to save enough money to purchase a high quality spot boar from a farmer in the Midwest. After having him shipped to me and putting him on feed, I was devastated when I went out one morning and found him dead.
Years later, I realize that what I encountered that day is commonplace to the American farmer. It is not unusual to “put your eggs in a basket” only to have them crushed by factors outside your control. From this experience, I learned what risk management is all about. I pass this lesson on to my students each year and try to ensure that future generations can learn from lessons I received the hard way.
Most Joyous Moment in Agriculture:
The life of an Agriculture Science Teacher is filled with joyous moments and while I have had more than my fair share, I want to focus on one specific time. A few years ago I was helping my students pick out market hogs to compete with at the major stock shows here in Texas. We were traveling through the Midwest, bouncing from farm to farm, when one of my students looked at me and said “You know Mr. Williamson, this is how people were meant to live.” While this simple statement seems so commonplace when I read it out loud to myself, he struck me at the time. It was the first time that I can recall “knowing” the good that I was doing. For one of my urban students to have found a true appreciation for the industry that I love means more to me than any one accomplishment that I have achieved on a personal basis.