Successful farmers are the most innovative bunch you’ll ever meet. On the flipside of those successful farmers, however, are the people formerly known as “farmers”— the ones who didn’t innovate, change with the times, and try new things. The failure to innovate comes down to a handful of excuses:
- They waited too long to innovate and by the time they thought they’d try some new things, their bank account was dry and there was no money left to fund the innovative idea.
- People are set in their ways. They’ve always done it a particular way, so why should there be any change? Besides, they’d have to learn something new.
- They don’t understand or trust some of the innovations happening in their industry, or they might question why it’s likely to help their farm.
- Fear of risk.
- Or, being just plain stubborn.
So why am I singing to the tune of innovation? Well, it’s kind of like that refrain by Bob Dylan: “the times they are a-changin’” and at this point in my letter, if you don’t know who Bob Dylan is, well, you’re a lot younger than I am. The Florida blueberry industry is faced with several challenges that have nothing to do with the weather, a fungus, or a critter— namely encroachment on our previous “exclusive” commodity window from Mexico (among other places) and labor shortages, both of which threaten the old way of growing and harvesting blueberries.
If you haven’t already done so, you may want to consider trying on some new things for size. Could be mechanical harvesting, could be new varieties, it could be any number of ideas that you find within the pages of this magazine. As I said before, farmers are the most innovative bunch you’ll ever meet, and that is why, above all else, the industry will continue to overcome its challenges, whatever form they might come in.
NELSON KIRKLAND, Publisher