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Why I Farm: Behind the Movement

Farming for a Purpose

Published on Wednesday, December 17, 2014

I struggled all day. Struggled to capture my thoughts. Struggled to find the right words. And the more I struggled, the more I started to doubt myself.

With my frustration increasing, I slumped back in my chair, closed my eyes, and prayed for a little encouragement. If you’ve been following my journey on the Why I Farm Movement, then you’ll know it’s because of the Movement that I found my faith. (You can read about it here.) While it helped me connect with Him, I’m still learning, searching and trying to figure things out. One thing I do know, you can talk to Him about anything – even writer’s block.

As I was in the midst of my conversation, I heard a ping on the computer. A new email had arrived. And this is what it said.


Congrats on putting together great stories like the Moore's. I farm in Virginia and I am raising my three kids on the Homeplace where I grew up. I admire Ben's quote that he is giving his kids the opportunity to live their dream.

I just wanted to give you a pat on the back from far away and mention keep doing what you are doing it inspires guys like me.

P. J.”

Reading P.J.’s email, I had goose bumps on my arms, tears in my eyes, and a smile on my face. With one short email from a Virginia farmer, my spirit was instantly rejuvenated. And deep down, I knew who was responsible.

P.J.'s email was all the encouragement I needed. You see, I’m a perfectionist, love a challenge, and always striving to improve. Selfishly, I wanted today’s blog to be my best. Because today is a celebration. Not only are we celebrating a year of Why I Farm: Behind the Movement blogs, but we're also releasing a new Why I Farm story.

                                               Photo credit:

Since July 31, 2013, I’ve blogged 52 times about my journey in the Why I Farm Movement. While my journey in the Movement was a major turning point in my life, this journey isn’t about me. It’s about you.

When I started brainstorming for this blog, I knew the direction I wanted to take. It was always about you – the reader. I just couldn’t find the words. And it couldn’t have been more perfect to receive an email from a reader hundreds of miles away after praying for inspiration.

So I’d like to thank you, each and every one of you. Thank you for not only believing in me, but believing in the Why I Farm Movement. Thank you for not only reading the stories, but offering words of encouragement. And thank you for joining me in honoring the American farmer.

Today, the Why I Farm: Behind the Movement blog celebrates a year of blogs. There’s no better way to rejoice than by releasing a new Why I Farm story. A story that doesn’t just have meaning to the agriculture community, it impacts everyone in the world.

Purpose in Life
The other day I ran across a quote from a gentleman by the name of Mark Manson. “Discovering one’s “purpose” in life essentially boils down to finding those one or two things that are bigger than yourself, and bigger than those around you.”

He wasn’t talking about farming. But for many farmers, if you ask them why they farm, it’s because that’s all they ever wanted to do. It’s who they are. And it’s knowing that farming isn’t just bigger than them, it’s bigger than all of us.

On April 14, 2014, three of us from the Beck’s marketing department loaded the truck and headed west to DeWitt, IA. Our goal – capture the “Why I Farm” story of Mike Schmidt.


When we walked into the farm office, we were greeted by two of the Schmidt family members – Mike’s sister, Michelle, and his mom, Cindy. After nearly six hours on the road, their smiles warmed our hearts and made us feel right at home. Minutes later, two men walked through the door – Mike and his dad, Rod.

As I explained the interview process, the Schmidt men led us to the farm warehouse. The perfect location for  a cold, spring day interview.

Established in the late 1970s, Schmidt Farms is the definition of a family farm operation. But it wasn’t always a full-time job. For more than 20 years, Rod worked two jobs – a job in town and farming. It wasn’t until the early 2000s that Rod and his wife were able to farm full-time. Today, along with their children, Mike and Michelle, they farm 4,000 acres, as well as operate an ag service business and grain elevator.

When Mike graduated from college in the early 2000s, he knew where he wanted to be. Although, he wasn’t the only one who knew their purpose in life. His sister, Michelle, followed in his footsteps. Upon college graduation, she joined the family farm.

 Listen to Mike and Rod as they share why farming is just “in their blood.”

During the hour-long interview, we discussed everything from favorite memories to life lessons learned on the farm. My favorite story, and one we all laughed at, was about Mike. It was one of those stories that over time became a favorite memory and also a life lesson.

As Mike and Rod began to share the story, laughter erupted. Mike was just a toddler at the time, tagging along with Rod to finish chores. Instead of bringing Mike into the barn, he left him in the pickup truck. Unbeknownst to Rod, there was a marker. Streaks and lines adorned the leather seat.

In my interviews, it’s moments like those that I cherish the most – listening to laughter between a father and a son.

Toward the end of the interview, I had several questions focused on a particular topic. Not just any topic, a topic that pertains to everyone. Feeding the world.

With the world population growing, the need for more food increases. But how do farmers continue to raise more crops as farmland continues to decline? If you ask the Schmidt’s, it’s staying ahead of the game. Keep pushing the limits to raise more crops not only to keep the family farm going, but to feed a growing population.

Watch the video below to hear the father and son duo explain why biotechnology is important for both their farming operation and for consumers.

It’s truly an honor to share the “Why I Farm” story of Schmidt Farms on my 52nd Why I Farm: Behind the Movement blog. Because their story doesn’t just apply to them, it applies to the American Farmer. The American Farmer who strives each day to ensure that the future of food production is secure, both for their farm families and for consumers around the globe.

If you haven't seen Mike Schmidt's official Why I Farm video, I encourage you to take two minutes and watch. It's uplifting. It's captivating. And it’s real. It’s the story of the American Farmer.


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Ashley Fischer
Ashley Fischer>

Ashley Fischer

Marketing Communications Manager at Beck's.

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2 comments on article "Why I Farm: Behind the Movement"

Cindy Schmidt

12/19/2014 5:35 PM

Ashley and crew - loved the videos. You captured our commitment to farming in the video segments. Keep up the good work. We totally enjoyed the days we spent with you guys. Have a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. The Schmidt's - DeWitt, Iowa

Cindy bailey

12/23/2014 8:57 AM

Another enjoyable read! Congratulations on 1 year anniversary!

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