Mr. Tsukasa Takebayashi won the Grand Prize! 2049 Hokkaido Young Farmers Conference, Agri-Message Section "Is it a waste to be a farmer? Full text

Friday, February 7, 2020

Mr. Tsukasa Takebayashi, 31, of Hokuryu Town, won the Grand Prize at the "2027 Hokkaido Young Farmers' Conference: Agricultural Message Division" held at the Hokkaido Jichiro Kaikan (Sapporo City) on January 28 and 29, 2012.

Mr. Takebayashi is from Hokuryu Town. He graduated from the Faculty of Agriculture at Hokkaido University and worked as a reporter for the Japan Agricultural Newspaper for about 5 years before making a U-turn to farming in 2017.

This is a message from Mr. Takebayashi, who, through his experiences in covering agricultural policy when he was a reporter and during the Kumamoto earthquake, aims to create a management and farming community where agriculture becomes a place of employment that people long for.

We have received permission to publish the full text of the message from the individual.

Hokkaido Young Farmers Conference

The Hokkaido Youth Farmers Conference is a gathering of young people who are the bearers of agriculture in Hokkaido, and aims to promote the development of new agriculture and farming villages in Hokkaido by deepening the exchange of information on agricultural technology and management improvement, rural life and rural revitalization, improving the quality of agriculture, and disseminating messages from young farmers to society at large. The goal is to create a new agriculture and farming community in Hokkaido.

▶ Sponsor
Hokkaido Agri-Network, Hokkaido 4H Club Liaison Council, Hokkaido Agricultural Corporation, Hokkaido

▶ Sponsor
Hokkaido Board of Education, Hokkaido Central Association of Agricultural Cooperatives, Hokkaido Agricultural Extension Association, Hokkaido Council of Agriculture, Hokkaido Association of Certified Agricultural Teachers, Hokkaido Farmers Association

▶ Participants
Young farmers, agricultural trainees, and persons involved in fostering leaders of agricultural organizations and groups, etc.

Participates in the 59th National Young Farmers Conference as a representative of Hokkaido

Mr. Takebayashi will represent Hokkaido at the 59th National Young Farmers' Convention to be held at the National Olympics Memorial Youth Center (Shibuya-ku, Tokyo) on Wednesday, February 26 and Thursday, February 27. We wish him all the best in his endeavors.

碧水町内会 竹林 司さん
Hekisui Neighborhood Association: Mr. Tsukasa Takebayashi won the "Grand Prize" (photo courtesy of Mayor Yutaka Sano of Hokuryu Town on his Facebook page)

Full text of the message, "Is it a waste to be a farmer?"

"You're a farmer? After graduating from the University of North? Quit an agricultural newspaper? Wow, what a waste."

At a reunion, at a friend's wedding. In the three years since I made the U-turn to take over my family's business, I have been told this on various occasions. My father has always told me, "If you don't want to take over the business, but can make use of your abilities elsewhere, that's fine. In such a situation, is my choice really a "waste"?

To begin with, "What's the waste?" I thought about it. Academic background? I don't study to get a job, but I may not need it to become a farmer. Money? Sure, I quit just in time to plant seeds, so I missed my bonus in May, and the salary wasn't bad. But is that the only way to evaluate it? At first I was going to announce that there is no such thing as waste. But in reality, it might be. After all, as a moyamoya I could not come to a conclusion.

Why did I decide to become a farmer? I don't know if this will answer that question, but I took this opportunity to say, "Because I ain't nobody else's business!" I have come to the conclusion that I would like to blurt out my complaint that "I'm not a stranger!

In the world, both city people and country people say "agriculture is important. People who said to me, "What a waste," said the same thing. I believe that the reason why they feel it is a waste to be a farmer is because they feel that the reality of agriculture is something else.

I believe this desire is the result of what I learned during my college years and during my time as a reporter for an agricultural newspaper.

I liked to study, and my upbringing helped me decide on a career path in the agricultural department. I studied agricultural economics, and because I liked studying so much, I stayed in school for five years, one extra year. In my thesis, I concluded that "in a certain town, in 15 years, farmland cannot be protected unless farmers over 60 years old become farmers with an average of 30 hectares or more. To be honest, this was not enough to make me think for a moment that I wanted to become a farmer.

There is one more thing I learned. It was the activities of the student government at the Keidi-Ryo (dormitory) of Hokkaido University. It was a dormitory that was entirely run by students, which is rare these days, and I also served as dormitory head. Each task was difficult, but the biggest enemy was indifference. Meetings were busy trying to get a quorum, and people wouldn't even come together to sort trash for recycling. Behind my own life is someone else's sweat and hard work. It was very difficult to tell people that it was not "someone else's business," that it should not be just someone else's, and that it was not just "someone else's business.

These two studies from my university days were connected, and I joined the Japan Agricultural Newspaper after graduation with the desire to widely communicate the reality of agriculture. I enjoyed drinking in the city, but this time I will talk about my job. Being a reporter was busy but enjoyable. I started out in charge of the society section, then moved to the ministry, JA, and then to Fukuoka Prefecture, where I worked for five years, covering Kyushu, Okinawa, and other areas.

This was always a series of encounters with people who could not be "other people's business. Youth groups from all over the country suddenly decided at a meeting to campaign against the TPP and disbanded; an hour later they gathered in front of the LDP and chanted "Against the TPP" in chorus. It was tremendous anger and passion. I also interviewed a farmer who lost his wife to the tsunami in the area hit by the Great East Japan Earthquake. I remember throwing up in the car on the way home from the interview because it was so painful and painful to see him continue farming in the midst of despair.

Then, I reached a major crossroads in my coverage of the 2016 Kumamoto earthquake. Shortly after 9 p.m. after the earthquake, my colleague and I headed to Kumamoto and completed our coverage and submission from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. the next morning. We managed to get back to our hotel, which was open for business, and went to bed to prepare for tomorrow, but at 1:00 that night we were hit by the main quake, measuring 6 on the Japanese seismic scale. I remember slipping quickly under my desk and listening to the creaking of the hotel walls, thinking only of my fear of dying and how I would survive. Still, I managed to survive and was able to continue my coverage.

The next day, I interviewed two people and realized that I still felt that the earthquake and the farmers' lives were "other people's business. The first was a tomato farmer in his 50s. On the day his house collapsed, he went from the shelter in the morning to harvest tomatoes, saying that his tomatoes would be ruined. The second was a JA nursing home near the epicenter of the quake. They continued to provide day care services for the elderly affected by the disaster without taking a day off at all. Can you believe it? If I had been here, could I have done this? I asked myself.

After handing over the coverage to the next group, I went back to my room and thought about my hometown, Hokuryu. I still think that writing articles is a really important job for agriculture. Still, I think we need to learn more about the world of agriculture and get more involved in a world that is not someone else's business. That's what I thought.

I don't know if I can make more money than before. I don't know if I will make more money than I did before. It may be a waste. But in Hokuryu Town, famous for its agricultural work and its gorgeous sunflowers, there is a reality that is not a stranger to us. I am the first newcomer to the rice center in 20 years. I have to figure out what to do with the 150 Iwamura towns that are short of successors. I am now thinking about whether I should steer the ship toward incorporation, or whether I should consider a system that allows joint management based on a farming group, while talking little by little with local residents.

The first thing we need to do from now on is to not let it seem like a waste. Earn and enjoy. We must realize management and rural development in the future so that agriculture will become a place of longing for employment.

It's not someone else's business. I'm going to build my own community and town. From now on, I am going to show them that I am a farmer who will never say "what a waste".

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