Farmers and ranchers live their lives by the seasons. Most of us don’t give a second thought to the changing of the calendar; perhaps around the holidays, but other than that, most of us are too busy working to pay much attention.
Farmers are constantly in motion, driven by the seasons. Moving equipment around our hometowns in preparation for planting and at harvest is a highlyvisible undertaking for us. Even for those who live in our communities the importance of farming, both culturally and economically, is often overlooked. It’s certainly unfortunate that a lot of people have completely lost touch with where their food comesfrom or how it gets to their table or favorite restaurant.
The editor of an agricultural publication once told the true story of an encounter he had with a person who made the dietary choice of being a vegetarian. That person truly believed it was OK, as a vegetarian, to eat chicken wings “because they grow back,” she said. Granted, this is an extreme example. But a growing number of people have lost touch with farming. And farmers have found that explaining modern production agriculture isn’t always easy. That’s not always what people are most interested in hearing about, anyway.
Most people don’t want to hear national facts and figures about agriculture, either. And they don’t want to be on the receiving end of a one-sided lecture. They’re more interested in what the farmers near them do on their farms.
This brings to mind a quote located in the Cox Corridors of the Capitol Building in Washington, D.C. It’s a quote by Daniel Webster, who said, “When tillage begins other arts follow. The farmers, therefore, are the founders of human civilization.”
Those of us involved with agriculture know that what Webster said so many years ago remains true today. But as citizens pursued other arts, they forgot what brought our nation to prosperity. Still, many people are curious about today’s agriculture.
An interesting dichotomy is that public curiosity with farming and ranching continues to increase as people become further removed from knowing how their food is produced. This presents a great opportunity to fill that knowledge gap.
More and more often, farmers are joining in the national conversation consumers are having about food and farming. By listening carefully, farmers often discover they can address concerns consumers have about food by sharing their stories about their farms.
As urban populations expand into the countryside, farmers are finding increased opportunities to tell their stories. Interacting in this way helps consumers gain a true understanding of the passion farmers and ranchers have for the environment, animal well being and how important, strong and viable farming methods are to our nation’s overall prosperity.