The biggest bets aren’t made at a card table, racetrack or during the Super Bowl. Instead, they happen every day on farms and ranches across the country. While most bettors place their hopes (and a few dollars) on a single event, those who grow our food face a successive series of wagers with the fate of the farm in the balance.

It takes a lot of optimism to grow a crop from seed or raise an animal from birth when so much is often out of your control. Perils from Mother Nature abound — heat, cold, drought, flood, insects, diseases, storms and fires are just some of the potentially devastating events that can cause a bet to go south. Even if you successfully navigate all of those, you may still find yourself receiving a payout that doesn’t seem to justify all the risk, let alone the expense of production.

“Insight” is a weekly column published by Kansas Farm Bureau, the state’s largest farm organization whose mission is to strengthen agriculture and the lives of Kansans through advocacy, education and service.