Roughly 200 people filled auditorium seats at the Danforth Center in St. Louis for a private screening of the new documentary film ‘Farmland.’ There were agriculture industry executives, ag commodity group leaders, farmers, consumers and children. As the lights dimmed, you could feel the anticipation mounting. Would this film tell the story of American agriculture?
‘Farmland’ is opening May 1 in theatres across the country. The documentary shows just how the food we eat is grown and raised here in America. And while the movie is targeted toward the consuming public, there are a couple of reasons why farmers should watch ‘Farmland.’
1. It features young farmers and ranchers. I love the fact that award-winning director James Moll uses six young farmers and ranchers to tell the story of agriculture. If you want to know how the next generation of farmers views the future of your industry, these six young people offer that insight. They come from a variety of backgrounds—cattle feeders, row crop farmers, hog farmers, organic growers and small community supported farmers. Each one has a different look at the future of their industry.
By showcasing young farmers and ranchers, it proves that farming is not a dying profession. Yes, the average age of a farmer is 55. But the farmers featured in the documentary showed how both cutting edge technology and old-school know-how is used to create food. Those two ideals, while they may seem far apart, are providing more opportunities for the younger generation to consider farming as a viable career option.
2. It makes farmers feel good about their legacy. These young farmers and ranchers not only tell the agriculture story, but they tell the rural America story. They share intimate details of life on the farm. They share struggles and stereotypes that farmers for generations have endured. There was laughter as Texas farmer Brad Bellah shared his life on a cattle farm. And there wasn’t a dry eye in the house when Nebraska farmer David Loberg talked about his dad. But, you will need to see the movie to find out why.
For farmers who feel beat up by the consumer, media and general public, this movie reaffirms why you chose such a noble profession. It can serve as a reminder during times of lower prices, market volatility and weather extremes that the legacy you are leaving is worth it. And more importantly, that inheritance is not lost on the next generation. These are young people stepping up to meet the challenge of feeding a growing world population. They will make you proud.
After the viewing, I was encouraged to hear that a shorter version of this film is in the works. It will be headed to schools and universities. This is where we, in agriculture, will start changing the attitude toward farming and the food supply. And who better to share their experience with the next generation of consumers than those who will provide food, shelter and clothing for them.
If you live in Missouri, B&B Theatre group has embraced ‘Farmland’ and is offering showings starting May 1 at their theatres in:
Tickets are available on ‘Farmland’s’ website.