By Julie Tomascik

Up. Down. Around the turn. Fast. Then slow.

Each roller coaster ride is a little bit different. And, even if you think you know what’s coming, you’re still in for a bit of a shock.

It’s no different in farming and ranching.

Each year, farmers and ranchers hop on and hang on for what’s sure to be an adventurous ride.

Step up. Step in. Buckle up.
Those are the first motions of riding a roller coaster, and the first in the business of agriculture.

Farmers make a commitment. They jump in the tractor and start planting.

Things are looking good. Just like the wind isn’t too rough at the beginning of the roller coaster ride.

… Climb the hill
But now you’re heading up the steep incline. Wind is stronger. Whipping around you and through you.

Texas farmers and ranchers face a strong headwind, too. Is it going to rain? Or did it rain too much? Pests, diseases and storms can wreak havoc in a matter of seconds.

Levels out
Just when it seems like you can’t take any more of the climb, the ride levels out. Giving you a chance to breathe, to enjoy the scenery and the ride.

Farmers and ranchers catch a bit of a break, too. Planting is finished. Fertilizer has been applied, and the crop is growing.

Sharp turn NOW
To the right. Then the left. You can barely hang on to your seat in the roller coaster.

It’s how farmers and ranchers feel watching the markets. They lose their stomach when the markets drop. They get hopeful when it starts edging back up, only to lose it again.

Those unpredictable roller coaster moments are found in more than just markets. Mother Nature’s plans are often different than the plans farmers and ranchers have.

Downhill slide
You’re coasting down the hill with the feeling of the ride coming to an end. It’s a contented feeling. But your adrenaline is still pumping.

The rush is over on the roller coaster.

But as harvest wraps up, the pace can pick up for farmers and ranchers. The end of another season is near. But that homestretch sometimes comes quickly—too quickly—in a rush to beat Mother Nature at her own game.

There are only a courageous few—just 2 percent—willing to step on the agricultural roller coaster. It’s a wild ride of weather, markets, rising costs and decreasing farm income. A ride that makes even the Titan—the granddaddy of all roller coasters—look less terrifying.