No one has to convince me that Nebraska farmers are good stewards, protectors of their environment and caregivers of their livestock. I see it every day as I visit with producers around the state and travel to their farms and ranches.
They have always been the first environmentalists, the first soil conservationists, the first and best at proper animal husbandry. While producers in general enjoy positive reviews by most consumers around the world, particularly those in other countries who deal with much higher food prices and less accessibility to food choices than we do in the U.S., there are those who would like to take a swing at modern production now and then. There are those in the modern media, food industry and even farmers themselves who often give modern agriculture an intentional black-eye by using mostly outdated and less-than-factual information, served on a silver platter to consumers who have no practical understanding of farming today.
Keeping all of this in mind, I was thinking the other day about many of the stories Nebraska Farmer editor, Don McCabe and I, as well as other Farm Progress editors and writers with our sister publications at Dakota Farmer, Wallace’s Farmer, Kansas Farmer and others have written over the past year. While producer profitability is at the center of all of our stories, in the hopes of providing our farmer and rancher readers with ways they might improve efficiency, excel at production and better preserve resources, it would be useful to consumers and food industry leaders to read these success stories in agriculture.
Restaurant owners, food distributors, grocers, legislators and urban consumers need to become more agriculturally literate, so they don’t have to buy all of the myths being shoveled their way about modern producers. They need to read our articles about young farmers who are embracing high tech ag tools so they can place inputs where they will be utilized best, and can protect and preserve natural resources and still make a living from the land.
They need to hear about the ranchers who spend their late winter nights tending to baby calves in snowstorms. They should read about the irrigators who are using variable rate technology to raise more crops and save water. It would be useful to them if they understood more about how technology and genetics are helping farmers use fewer pesticides and protect the groundwater. How about the stories of farmers who are capturing methane from their livestock to power their farms? How about our articles about climate-controlled livestock facilities keeping livestock clean, dry and warm on cold winter nights?
Many of the articles we write every year have a broader reader audience than producers, because they tell the story of agriculture and the production of food, fiber and fuel in our nation. Our many distribution tools at Farm Progress help us share these stories with others, but farmers themselves could also give an assist.
If you have friends and family living and working in urban areas, or if you know folks in the food industry or food and farm policy arenas, don’t forget to share links to our stories with them on Facebook and Twitter. Help educate our next generation of consumers by sharing the stories we write about modern producers and production on the land with the folks who need to understand it the most. It is important for us to give farmers every possible advantage in information, so they can be as profitable and efficient as possible. I feel that is our mission. But it is equally important for producers themselves to tell their story. If Nebraska Farmer can help you do this, feel free to share our links with the folks who might enjoy reading more about the good stewards and compassionate food producers we have the honor of writing about every day.
We wish you all the best and a healthy, happy and profitable 2013.
Be sure to watch http://www.nebraskafarmer.com and read our January print issue of Nebraska Farmer for news, information and tips on meeting the challenges of drought. Your best online resource for drought information is the Farm Progress drought site at http://www.DatelineDrought.com.