MFT: In what ways can the industry support young farmers and ranchers and provide them with opportunities?
HAWKINS: Our rural communities must be strong so that young people want to return home to a prosperous place with a good quality of life. It’s a symbiotic relationship. We need young people to inject their energy and enthusiasm into rural areas, but they need a quality place to raise families and put down roots.
MFT: As another growing season approaches, what are farmers’ prospects for this crop year?
HAWKINS: This year promises to be very difficult for farmers. Many input costs had already doubled and tripled with supply chain problems and rampant inflation, and uncertainty and instability in Russia and Ukraine only made matters worse. Meteorologists have raised concerns about the strong possibility of a prolonged drought this summer. Gasoline, diesel, propane and natural gas all shoot through the roof. I’m always positive about agriculture and I know our farmers can weather just about anything that comes their way, but we have some big things against us as we think about what’s on the horizon in 2022 .
MFT: What type of farming operation do you have in St. Clair County and how did you get involved with the Missouri Farm Bureau?
HAWKINS: We have a cow-calf operation in partnership with my brother. We are in the process of implementing a rotational grazing system and have introduced small ruminants (sheep) as a way to diversify our farm.