The experience of agriculture and being raised in a small town is ingrained into my being. My name is Margaret Dillard and I am ag.
When I was five-years-old, I received perhaps the most unusual birthday gift. It was a shiny, red hay hook used to pierce large compacted alfalfa cubes. At that point in my life, it wasn’t so much a practical tool, but a symbol that I was part of the team. My parents delighted in telling and retelling the story about how my mother brought me home, her newborn daughter, along with two dozen tiny chickens. As a child, our family tilled fields, raised cattle, pigs and turkeys and harvested fruits and nuts. Anyone who has ever lived or worked on a farm knows it’s a team effort and the days are sometimes very long and tiresome. There isn’t a second shift to pick up where you left off… If you don’t get it done, it simply isn’t finished. The work ethic and moral code that Midwesterners are known for setting the stage for my career.
For several decades as an adult, I lived in Arizona where agriculture was not as prevalent. To my surprise, many people had no idea where their food came from or how it was grown. Though, I enjoyed living in the Arizona sunshine, I longed for the corn covered landscape and the small town atmosphere that I remembered from my youth. In 2014, I accepted the position of President of the Fairmont Area Chamber of Commerce. The move brought me to reside just ten miles south of my native home in Truman, Minnesota.
I work in the Fairmont Area Chamber to promote a healthy business environment through focused leadership, communication, education and advocacy.
An example of the work we do that supports agriculture and education in our area is the Agri-business Committee. The committee provides scholarships for students with an interest in agriculture. Two $4,200 scholarships are awarded to students pursuing a bachelor’s degree in agriculture related programs. AFA Community Scholars are awarded a $3,200 academic scholarship and sponsorship to attend the AFA Leaders Conference.
When considering a definition of agriculture, Webster and I agree that the practice of farming, cultivating, growing, tilling plus the rearing of animals to provide food, fabric and other products fall into the ag arena. When considering local businesses, there are few that exist completely independent from the world of the farmer.