Independence Day is a good opportunity to reflect on the freedom that we have as Americans. To keep the freedom that we enjoy, we have the obligation to listen to others and fight for what we know is right.
A citizenship commentary describes that, "many people take their freedom for granted, but freedom requires good citizenship. Citizens of a free nation who refuse to accept their responsibilities as citizens risk losing their freedom to a small self-interested group who may take control."
That concept also applies to the food we eat. There are many groups and discussions about food that seem to favor imposing strict limits on how food is raised. A friend of mine talks about taking away the farmer's social license to farm, i.e. making it socially unacceptable for farmers to use practices that they feel are best for their land or animals.
If farmers aren't participating in the food conversations that are going on in our society, based on the path we've witnessed in recent history, it is likely that more regulation will be implemented. Will those regulations be good, fair, or even needed? They are decisions that can be made with or without you involved in the conversation.
So what can you do to share your story? Where do you start? Several farm families have had success with doing farm tours or "lunch and learn" events on their farm. Both events would be a larger scale undertaking, inviting a group to your farm.
If doing something large scale seems like too much, start by inviting one person or one family from a non-farm background to visit your farm. Maybe it's someone from church or your children's school. Just start somewhere so others are hearing the farming story directly from you.
I am convinced that the American farmer is the best producer in the world. Is there room for improvement? Of course. If you are farming today, you have made improvements year after year. Sometimes those changes are large, sometimes small, but year after year, your farm has adapted to improve.
As American farmers, we do have regulations and policies that we must abide by – we talked about this last week regarding the difficulties in getting the Farm Bill passed. But in the end, it's our responsibility to speak out for what we think is right.
O beautiful for spacious skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the fruited plain!
God shed His grace on thee,
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!