(By DONNA BRAYMER (donnab@harrisondaily.com) for HarrisonDaily.com)

In Gaither, Arkansas, family farmers Kayla and Austin Pratt are very active farmers and involved in the community. Kayla is also the current Farm Bureau board president.

“I’m the sixth generation to farm our land at Gaither so I think you could definitely say that ‘it’s in my blood,’” Kayla said. “My parents also owned and operated our local sale barn most of my life. Growing up in that environment and seeing the relationships my parents developed with people was an invaluable experience.”

Austin admitted, “Farming is completely new to me, but I can’t imagine my life without it now. After graduating from college with an ag degree, I got a job in sales at Larson Farm & Lawn. This position gave me the opportunity to go to farms all around our area and learn from other producers. I feel so fortunate to be a part of the farming community and I can’t think of a better lifestyle for my daughter to grow up in.”

The Pratts agree, “The gap between producers and consumers is wider now more than ever before. It is our job as producers to try and close that gap. With only 2 percent of the population producing the world food supply, it makes since why that gap would exist. There was a meme on Facebook a while back that read ‘Farming is the art of losing money while working 400 hours a month to feed people who think you’re trying to kill them.’ Obviously, that statement is a bit of a stretch, but there is also some truth to it. It seems like we as farmers and ranchers are always on defense. Whether we are at a family dinner and someone is discussing how bad red meat is for your health, or why we would be in support of a factory farm, it is hard to be proactive and not reactive. However, we don’t know every detail about other industries so it’s hard to judge someone who has different perceptions about the industry we’re in. The truth is most farmers and ranchers are trying to produce the best quality product at the most affordable price. Of course, we all want to be profitable, but there’s so much more to it than that. We love what we do. We want to be good stewards of our land and environment for future generations, take quality care of our livestock, all while producing a product that our consumer desires.”

Kayla said technology has changed immensely and will continue to do so. “As a kid, I can remember my parents getting their first bagged car phone. Fast forward a few years, and now we have smartphones with facial recognition and an abundance of information at our fingertips.”

Austin said, “GPS systems, drones, and genetically enhanced crops are just a few ways technology has changed to increase farm productivity. Technology advancements are resources we must continue to use in order to be sustainable.”

How do they expect farming to change in the future?

“I think that we will see a market-driven electronic identification and traceability system,” Austin said. “I guess in a way we already are. It’s just a small percentage right now, but I believe we will see that only increase.”

What is the “dream” goal for the farm?

The Pratts agree, “We want to improve the quality of our herd and produce a superior product in an efficient and profitable way.”

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