By Mark Watson, Panhandle No-Till Educator
I’m sitting in a hotel room in Pierre, S.D. waiting for the brakes to get fixed on our recently purchased semi-tractor. We have a full load of field pea seed sitting on the trailer in tote bags. Our situation has got me to thinking about everything involved in the process of providing a consistent and healthy food supply to our consumers.
With more and more field pea acres being planted in our region, we decided getting all the seed from South Dakota to our region was going to require some real effort. We decided to take the challenge head on and purchase our first semi to haul pea seed. My son Jacob obtained his CDL license and took on the job of obtaining all the permits required for this undertaking which proved to be quite a challenge.
I decided I would accompany Jacob on the initial run to provide moral support. I really don’t know much about running a semi but figured if nothing else I could bring a credit card. Only a couple of farmers would take off on an 850 mile run to haul seed with only a hope and a prayer that everything will work out. As it turns out it’s a good thing I brought a credit card.
The drive up went fine, we picked up our trailer along with the seed and headed for home. We spent 10 hours yesterday on the road to travel roughly 100 miles. We had three different mechanics, two in service vehicles, come to our aid as we were stranded along the road in various places in route. We also made a side trip to Gettysburg to get a flat tire fixed. We ended the final 16 miles of our trip following a service pickup into Pierre which got me to where I’m at now.
They found the brake valve we needed and are repairing it as I write, and we’ll hopefully complete our trip later today, a full 24 hours behind schedule. In any event the whole experience has provided some good father/son bonding time in some good times as well as bad, so it’s been a good trip from my perspective.
It also has gotten me to thinking about the teamwork required to produce food, forage, fuel, and fiber across our nation. Everything involved from seed, fertilizer, fuel, and mechanical work has to fall into place to get the crop in the ground. From there the producer and his crop production advisors tend to the crop through harvest. The crop is then delivered to the elevators, processors, and merchants who deliver the crop to our consumers.
We are blessed in this country to have the infrastructure in place to handle all these processes in order to get food to the table. If any part of this chain breaks the whole process is put in jeopardy.
From my personal experience of this trip I can testify to the challenge of being a weak link in the chain. We’ve had a learning experience and we’ll get our link of the chain repaired and running smooth again. Thanks to some skilled mechanics we’ll be up and running in an hour or so and we’ll do our part to keep the agricultural production system in our country running smooth and delivering reliable and safe food to our consumers