Humorist focuses on the human side of agriculture at AgOutlook


Jolene Brown, who farms in southeastern Iowa, says she learned early on that farmers can easily get volumes of information about agriculture production and finances. Instead, she speaks to audiences about the people who farm. “I focus on the human side of agriculture,” said Brown, one of the speakers at AgOutlook 2022 on December 8th at the Sioux Falls Ramkota Inn. “All the way from family business, and that is my specialty – I do full-day workshops on that – but I also talk about advocacy, the need to be a true champion for what we do. And one of the things I’ll be doing at the outlook conference is making sure that we appreciate ourselves and celebrate, so I’m going to be doing ‘Harvest the Humor: A Celebration of Life on the Farm’”.

Jolene Brown

To help farm families succeed, Brown speaks to audiences and leads workshops about family farm dynamics.

“We’re expected, generally, to have a good attitude every day. Now that doesn’t mean there aren’t bad days, or we don’t need support, or we don’t need to vent, or we don’t need to walk away,” said Brown, whose public speaking career began during the 1980s farm crisis. “But generally, is this your profession of choice, being able to celebrate that opportunity to do something that we love to do, and in an environment that we have a large part in creating? I think that’s quite a gift. So sometimes we have to pause to applaud all that we have done.”

Brown, who shares the AgOutlook podium with meteorologist John Baranick and commodities analyst Naomi Blohm, says difficult farm life experiences build character and help to shape and prepare the younger generation to succeed the older generation. However, being sheltered from difficult circumstances, says Brown, might leave the younger person ill-prepared.

“You need to have people in the family business team that have some grit,” she said. “One of the challenges I have is I have a lot of people in their 20s and maybe early 30s who are ready to take over the farm, but they have no grit, and the enemy of grit is ease. And quite often the senior generation has made it way too easy, and so the next generation has not necessarily developed grit. That doesn’t mean they have to do things the same as the past generation, and we sure as heck hope they don’t, but you need to have those wise masters.”

Specifically, Brown will share what she’s learned from her life on the farm.

“There’s nothing better or worse than working with family genetics,” she said, “and I’m going to add right now that when we do Harvest of Humor, they are going to hear that there’s nothing better than growing up on the farm, and we have certainly different points that we’re going to cover of that along the way because that is the time of celebration when I’m at the [AgOutlook] Conference.”

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