Opening up conversations between South Dakotans and the farmers who live and work here is what we do. In fact, that’s what Hungry for Truth is all about. This month, we wanted to explore what the life of a farmer looks like when they’re not on the farm. Farmers are no different than anyone else; they go on vacations, plan the succession of their operations and find other hobbies to work on in the offseason. We had an exciting opportunity to speak with Mike McCranie, a director on the South Dakota Soybean Research & Promotion Council about traveling as a farmer. Below, Mike is sharing his perspective on a few traveling experiences.
I first started traveling at a very young age with one of my best friends, Rob Green. I only traveled with a backpack on a shoestring. We would stay in youth hostels and travel on public transportation, which provided many interactions with local people. Public transportation in Third World countries consists of riding buses that break down in the middle of nowhere and trains that are loaded with not only people but produce and animals. While traveling in foreign countries, I made it a point to explore local agriculture. I discovered that you can always learn something from any person involved in agriculture, no matter how primitive or advanced their farming practices. You never know what new practices you’ll learn from the variety of people you meet!
My travel styles definitely changed after I got married. My wife, Monica, and I love to travel domestically and internationally. It’s always a great way to catch up with different friends I’ve made over the years. When traveling for the South Dakota Soybean Research and Promotion Council, our travels consist of trade missions. Traveling on trade missions is not the same as traveling for leisure. These travels are solely meant to meet with customers and promote the soybeans that we raise. Agendas are full of meetings with customers, while free time may only consist of an hour here or there where you get to explore the new city or country you are in.
My biggest piece of advice to farmers wanting to travel more is to look for travel groups, especially if you are wanting to learn about local agriculture. There are different organizations that plan these types of trips, which will take doing some of your own research. Travel groups are generally safer, while typically getting the expertise of the locals that lead your tours on the trip.