Welcome to Fishback Family Farms! I'm Rachel Fishback, a farm wife and mother of four by day...Capturing the art and chaos to our everyday farming life! We live in Southeast Iowa where we raise corn and soybeans.

What If.......

Monday, February 13, 2012

I had the honor of writing a blog post for Monsanto.  Kate was wonderful to work with.  I picked what I wanted to write about, and she accepted what I had come up with on my first draft....easier than high school, I must say!  Here's the link:

Going back

Guest post by Rachel Fishback

Top left: My great grandpa planting with his new fordson and homemade planter in the late 30's, early 40's. Top right: My great grandpa harvesting oats in the 80's

Bottom left: My grandpa Richard harvesting corn in the early 80's

Bottom right: My dad on his first tractor he bought brand new in 1979.

"Oh, how I wish farmers would just go back to farming the way I grew up."

"I think farmers should farm the same way they did back in the fifties."

This is what I've heard over and over again, whether it be Facebook, Twitter, blogs, etc. As a farmer in 2012, I'd like people to stop and think about what they're asking for. Farmers, technologists and researchers have made huge strides and advances in our everyday practices. Some of these advances you can recall off the top of your head. Other advances, that we all take for granted, you really have to stop and think...would I want to give up that luxury?

Have you ever considered giving up your vehicle to go back to a 1950s car? No air conditioning...no GPS to navigate you through the country side...no DVD systems to entertain the kids...and no seatbelts! Would you ever dream of putting your child in a car with no seat belts? What about starting one of those cars in the dead of winter? I've watched the movie A Christmas Story, and that scene wasn't very pleasant.

How about the modern electronics we use every day in our homes? The beautiful refrigerators that make their own ice, electric ovens, color televisions with more than 200 channels, garage door openers, coffee makers or microwaves. I realize most of these items were invented or in making their debuts in some homes during the 1950s, but they definitely were not the norm. Forget computers, internet, iPods or cell phones -- that was space-age.

Medical advances. Think of the research and diagnosing tools we use today. Think of what doctors didn't have or could not diagnose. The medicine we have available today versus 1950. Wow. Do you want to go back to a life in 1950? What about giving up everything today and taking your family back in time to live in 1930? Sure, times were much simpler, but think of all of the problems and issues families dealt with. Think about what they "wished" for themselves, their children and future generations.

As a farmer's wife and mother to four young children, I know I take things for granted. I'm sure there are many Americans and people world-wide taking their everyday routines and belongings for granted. We are human. We have evolved through the decades and centuries to make our lives easier and better.

Why should farmers be told, or directed, that today's practices are wrong and we should "Go back to the way things use to be?"

Today, a farmer feeds 155 people. In 1960, one farmer fed only 26. Today, our tractors and combines are mostly run off of computers...dropping one seed every six inches for proper placing of a corn plant. Our sprayers and manure spreaders are also monitored by computers to spread correct amounts of nutrients over our precious soils. The cross breeding of plants to produce a seed appropriate for my farm in Iowa is completely different than a farmer would plant in Kansas. Animals are cared for in temperature-controlled buildings year round, instead of outside in negative temperatures with cold wind chills. We are professionals. We take pride in doing our job for the environment and food supply. Technology is playing a special role in everyone's lives, especially on our family farm.

Nathan (my husband), current time, checking seed planting length in ground with his modern equipment.

Advances in research, genetics and equipment that farmers use today should be no different than advances in medicine or electronics...or everyday items we all use. We have evolved and keep evolving with knowledge, facts and thorough testing. It's amazing the advances we all have sitting in our homes, offices, shops and machine sheds. I would love to give my great-grandpa a ride in the tractor I get the honor of driving today as the seventh generation on my family farm. I don't know where I'd begin just trying to explain everything it can do!

And why? Love.

Love for our land, our family, our heritage and our future. Not only providing a safe food supply to our neighbors, but our world.

About Rachel

Rachel Fishback, of Washington, Iowa, farms with her husband, Nathan, in Southeast Iowa. They raise corn, soybeans and four children on their farm. Rachel enjoys blogging about family life and showcasing farming and her modern day agriculture practices at


  1. looks like Rachel couldn't live in the 50's because it was "just too hard". The very IDEA of kids not having DVD's in the car!!! horror! Less than 50 channels to choose from on tv?! NO garage door openers?! I can't believe people even survived with out those "necessary" items. And those wonderful genetically modified seeds?, well let's just hope there is never a disease that could wipe that ONE type of seed out. You are not a farmer, you are a tool.

  2. And it would be great if you could defend the practice of Monsanto owning the cross pollinated plants that get into my organic fields. And can you talk about genetic diversity at all? What is Monsanto doing to biodiversity? And what's up with Roundup resistant weeds? any thoughts? I bet you can't or don't want to...or Monsanto told you not to. Do you have the guts to respond? Probably not

    1. Do YOU have the guts to just say who you are and talk to her as a person instead of attacking????? I THINK NOT! JSobaski

    2. One of the really great things about the Internet is that there is a world of information, opinions, editorials and entertainment at the tips of our fingers. The really unfortunate thing is that there is no way to safe-guard bloggers, like Rachel who is only exercising her own personal opinions and experiences, against unnecessary bullying. Why is an unkind response like that warranted? If you don't like how she is presenting the lives of her and her family to the world, then either click that little X at the top of your browser window, or be a role model and an adult and have a conversation with her, or other bloggers of the world who may have a different opinion than you do. It is discouraging to hear naming calling and challenges to respond on a family website. Unfortunate ...
      Kelly Chalupa

  3. Well, Mr or Mrs Anonymous, I, unlike you, proudly stand behind what I say. And that includes PROUDLY putting my name with what I type. As for what I 'have'....you probably shouldn't 'assume'. My vehicals have NEVER had DVD.... I've NEVER had the luxary of parking my vehicle in a garage.... So I wouldn't know what it is like to use a garage door opener. Am I complaining? No. I do have the honor of living in a 1900's farm house, raising my children on a family farm. I am a farmer. I PROUDLEY drive combines, tractors, etc. thru town and down country roads. I grew up stacking small bales, and before I could go to my 'after school job' I had to stop by and chore animals while my dad worked a night shift. You have the right to grow organic foods, just as I have the right to grow crops that have been tested, and grown to help feed our growing country and world....unlike organic farmers who choose to grow a type of commoidity that produces less yields...substantually less yields, that is. You may go ahead and eat the raw crop straight from the field that has flocks and flocks of back birds sitting on it. I'm sure the viruses from bird poo is filled with disease, but, personally, I don't want to that feed to my children for fear of what they could come down with. And I do realize how much birds eat and sit in the organic weed filled field, we have one about a mile away from our farm. I'll be sure to add a picture this year so you can see what I'm talking about. And I know the farmer who raises it, he's a good farmer, but there's only so much you can do to an organic been field before its over run by weeds. And thats what birds like....the seeds off of weeds. For the record, I volunteered to write the blog post for Monsanto-because I enjoy and I am PROUD of how my family chooses to farm. I was not paid....nothing was altered from my writings by Monsanto, and I will hopefully post for them again! As for you, who wants everyone to grow and eat 'organic,' we live in America. Its a free, beautiful world here. I don't force people to buy expensive clothes....I don't want to force people to only buy one kind of vehicle. That would be the joy of Democracy, my friend. So please don't take away my rights as a farmer to do things my way....a safe way....
    And, yes, I do have the guts to respond. Maybe next time you'll have the voice and belief in yourself, and your ways, to use your name:)
    Rachel Fishback

  4. Sorry for the typos...I didn't do a very good job checking, but I wanted to get my opinions out there before Mr or Mrs Anonymous thought I had forgotten about them.

  5. Well said, Lady! Keep your head held high. I don't know much about farming, whether it be the planting of altered seeds or organic, but I do know that how an individual chooses to live their life is their own free choice, and so long as they are not inhibiting or hurting others, than let's all do what makes us happy. Good for your for not backing down and sticking to what you believe in. THAT's being a role model!

  6. Jim Patterson - Port Angeles, WAFebruary 25, 2012 at 2:02 PM

    You go, (farm) girl! The holier-than-thou attitude of organic farmers is sickening. If the entire country organically farmed, we'd all starve from the low yields that are produced. And I refuse to pay more for "organic" anything...so I seldom buy it. Sometimes I don't have a choice, as Costco has gone all organic in their tomato pastes, diced and sauce products (S&W Brand). At least they didn't raise the price of it, so I do buy it.
    It has never been proven that is anymore healthy than non-organic. As a matter of fact, I know ALOT of people with cancer and other health issues who have eaten "organic" their entire lives! Therefore, I feel that, in the end, it's all a huge scam.
    Here's a good article: http://www.heymiller.com/2010/06/the-organic-myth/
    Thank you for providing America with healthy, wholesome food, Rachel...much love from Washington state!

  7. Cross pollination happens even if there were only organic corn in the area...different varieties in the same area is how cross pollination works. That is how new varieties come about.

  8. I think this is a great piece. I don't think, Rachel, that you are mentioning things like DVD players and garages and ipods to say that life was "too hard to live in" in the 50's, as the commenter above suggests. I think the point the writer is trying to make is that we have accepted technology and intellectual growth in every other aspect of our lives. I am not opposed to organic or conventional/GMO/advanced agriculture. I'm opposed to limited choices.

    To keep the conversation going, I am hoping that a few questions could be answered for me.

    1) Rachel, what can you tell us about Monsanto and cross-pollination problems? I work with beef cattle & am not very familiar, but I have heard many horror stories of farmers who are not contracted with Monsanto being slammed with large fines for having Monsanto-patented plants on their land without permission (suggestedly from cross-pollination...in other words...on accident). That seems pretty brutal, and I see where people can think of Monsanto as a large corporate monster. Do you have any insight or light to shed on this topic?

    2) This one is for the organic-only folks: I agree to an extent that a lot of things have become harmful and wasteful as time has progressed. We are polluting more than ever & there are concerns on our food sources. However, I think Agriculture's biggest adversary in the whole Great Debate is the pressure placed on farmers to feel that they must feed the world. If everyone were to go to organic, for example, that would mean we would support a much smaller population AND that many more people would have to join farming in the small scale (something I believe many people are taking interest in...ie home veggie patches). In your opinion, where is the cut-off?? I know this answer will be different for everyone, but I'm interested to hear...Are you willing to admit and push for America to shrink their population for 'pure' food?? That is a much bigger controversy than just asking farmers to leave technology for organic. But in my opinion, that is what organic-only fans are really promoting: that it is OK not to support our population. That it is OK to push your beliefs to the point that you ask people to reduce the number of children they can have because we ignore our capabilities in the food production market to be "pure"...And that, my friends, is a very very cherished right in this country. Do you also make that connection? Or do you draw the line differently?

  9. I stand along side my daughter and the way we farm Karla Stout

  10. Stand your ground Rachel!

  11. "My organic fields" Hmmm. Sounds like someone has a personal beef with Monsanto. I wonder if that's the reason why Anonymous is posting here and not on the original post on the Monsanto website. I am also wondering if the pure organic corn that Anonymous grows happens to grow as a cob on a stalk because humans spent a couple of thousand years cross breeding and genetically engineering to make it that way. It's called domestication. And of course, Anonymous will shoot right back with the argument that "But they didn't pour chemicals on it!" No they didn't, but they did take a plant that had a hundred times more varieties and breed it down to the "biodiversity" of today. Guess what. The weeds adapted. Pests adapted. Why? Because that's EVOLUTION.

  12. To farmthestart:
    In response to your first question, a court just ruled those kind of allegations are a "transparent effort to create a controversy where none exists. For more go to: http://www.agrimarketing.com/s/73290

    1. Awesome! Thank you for sharing that.

  13. I enjoyed your post, Rachel. Thank you for sharing your perspective. There is certainly a diversity of opinion, just like there's a diversity of farms. What's cool about this country is that consumers have the choice to purchase just about any food imaginable (made a visit to a local Hy-Vee Store this past weekend and counted 171 varieties of cold cereal!). As the old saying goes, "Have a lot of food and you have a lot of problems. Don't have enough food and you have just one problem." Thanks for your tireless dedication to sharing your perspective and farm life with the 98 percent of Americans that don't farm. They want to hear from you! -- Aaron Putze