Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Trust the Farmer but not the Ag Industry??

What does a farm-wife & her family have in common with a famous concert pianist (Wayne McEvilly) or a fan (Janice Person) who wrote a blog post about  making hummus from the garbanzo beans (also known as "chickpeas") that I sent her? 

Well... we all met through Twitter and now "I am their personal connection to our farm, I am the face behind the food they eat, and I am "their farmer". 

Farmer Joe and I traveled to Nashville last week to attend the Commodity Classic Ag Conference where 5,700 farmers and ranchers across the nation gathered to attend workshops, seminars, get the latest information on products & tools as well as just plain network with all these great people.  While the farmer was attending committee meetings, I attended workshops on Ag advocacy and what I found out at this year's session made me stop dead in my tracks.  Recent surveys show that while consumers love the farmer, they  do not trust the Ag industry.  The research charts are shown below.

And so when I learned that many consumers share this view, it left me saddened & somewhat puzzled.  It wasn't until the presenter used the analogy that many people may trust their elected senator, they do not trust the Congress to best represent everyone's interests, and then I understood.

So let's chat, because in this age of  "mega-information" there is a lot of mis-information, half-truths & mixed messages about what farmers do, why we do it and our role in what goes on your family's dinner table.
We in the Ag industry accept that for too long we assumed our customers knew that we were just going to work everyday and producing safe, abundant and inexpensive food.  Obviously it never occurred to us to talk to you and answer your questions, and for that, I apologize.   Statistics show the average consumer no longer has that rural farm connection and most Americans are about 3 generations removed from their rural agronomy roots.  And now people want to understand how their food is grown and gain that "connection" with those who still farm for a living.  We know we must tell our story, because there are many anti-Ag organizations and individuals  who do not farm, but feel they know how we should produce the food we all eat.  Rather curious don't you think?  Would you take tax advice from your plumber?   (I've linked prior blogs that talk about these groups and/or individuals and I invite you to read them).

The Ag Industry is made up of farmers, just like me & our farm and we want to give you that farm connection.  

For more farm blogs on all kinds of farming, check out this site,
Farmer, Inc., The Real Story
This says it all
And when I got back home and started unpacking and pondering about what we learned, I noticed my cross and name tag.... and I knew I needed a blog series that that can begin the conversation and earn the consumer's trust.

Because we must grow more crops on less land, we need healthy plants.  Below are pictures I snapped  from a vendor's booth that showed what diseased corn looks like due to insects that can inhibit the growth of a corn plant and ways to help keep plants healthy.

Unhealthy corn plants

Healthy corn plants
Today's farmers produce more food on less land and with less water and resources. Modern technology has been a great asset to allowing us to be more productive.  Bill Gates had a great quote:
Bill Gates says it all
The Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack also spoke at the opening session and here is a video clip (click here if unable to view)

A quick peak at more of the conference.....

And lastly, getting to finally meet Janet, one of my followers at a Tweet up.
 Janet (left) and getting to know other bloggers
What are we doing on the farm?  Well just yesterday Farmers Joe & Jay, along with Cody (our hired man) started moving equipment down to our other farm which is an hour away from our main farm shop. It looks like SPRING has arrived and we will be getting ready to begin the process of planting our Spring Wheat crops and our Garbanzo Beans!  I hope you will stop by often to get an up close and personal view of what "your farmer" is doing in the field.   Also, if you like this blog, please be sure to tell friends, neighbors about it, perhaps a letter to the editor of your local paper, so more people can gain that connection as well. =)

As always, thanks so much for stopping by and if you have any questions, please email me at idahofarmwife@gmail.com or leave a comment. Many thanks to my regular commenter's and readers. you are the best!   All my best, Gayle

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