Is agriculture relevant...I believe it is
I recently read an article about how the Secretary of Agriculture Vilsack outlined how agriculture is becoming less and less relevant. I went through a multitude of emotions when I first read it and I came to an epiphany that he is absolutely right.
As a farming community, we have become united and we have also become smaller as a percentage of the total U.S. population, and some say we are small but carry a large voice that commands an emotional response from many. Those of us in the farming community have been trying to teach people about agriculture and we need to take the next step of getting others more involved.
We all remember that feeling being similar to when we were in school; the homework, science fairs, and gym class and the urge to be at home doing something totally not school related. This is the feeling that needs to be overcome to help bridge the gap between the food and the farmer.
Our world is morphing to come full circle to what I’ve been told life was like during the 1930’s. At the time people bought locally off their neighbors and they knew where our food came from. Secure food sources and family values are something that many in society are currently striving for again. Now is the time that we need to come to a realization that each and every one of us possess these values and skills and we need to share it with the world.
You can ask yourself how we can become relevant in the near future while we strive as a community to help feed the world. This is a question that I fear my children will be asking when they get to my age. With the many people that I deal with in a month’s time, either farmers or business people, I have came to the common consensus that we are all striving to stay relevant and the ability to be good stewards of the land.
My mother said it best, “we never own the land we farm, but simply are stewards while we are above ground and we must care for it so the next generation can live as well as we have.”
This can be accomplished by following the best scientific practices available and listening to your farm. A man from one of the farm insurance companies spoke to a group of farmers recently and coined that last little bit perfectly, “Listen to the farm, and let it speak to you what it needs done to it.”
What I am suggesting is that if we let everyone know what we do on a daily basis, we will be able to help tell the story of agriculture, and it will help shake the shroud of mystery. It also begins to bridge the generational gap from Old McDonald’s farm to the business that agriculture has become today.
Gone are the days of diversification on each farm and more specialization to a few commodities. This way we can focus our time, resources and energy to be stewards of our land. Along with bringing a better understanding of that commodity, produce it in an efficient and environmentally conscience way. This also allows for the more economical use of available resources and the conservation of water.
We are now in the 21st century and if we look to the way farming practices were accomplished at the beginning of the 20th century; we have had great advancements to production, the efficiency of our time and the use of resources. Imagine what farming will be like when the calendar rolls to the 22nd century, and the amount of mouths that will need to be fed. Along with the growing populous, this will teach all of us to do more with less, and become more efficient and transparent to the consumer.
So, with the holiday season upon us, this is the perfect time of the year to share with your friends and neighbors. This past year was a trying year for a lot of people and it helps us to remember the value of what we have and value of those around us. I may be young and a little wide-eyed, but the agriculture community we live in has shown me in the few short years I’ve been on this Earth that we are blessed and lucky. Happy New Year and wishing prosperity to you and your own in the coming year.
Matt Aultman is the Chairman of the Darke Co. Chamber Ag Committee and Chairman-elect of the Darke Co. Farm Bureau. He can be reached at email@example.com for comments.