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Farmland: Meet America’s Next Generation of Farmers

Did you know that fewer than 1 percent of our population of 317 million are farmers? At one time, it was common for everyone to grow their own food. But with the immense amount of growth of our country has experienced, most Americans are now five generations removed from the farm. This means less people growing our food, and less land to grow it on, but that doesn’t mean there is any less care that goes into it.

Being five generations removed from the farm, a huge disconnect has developed between the farmer and the consumer. So much so, in some cases, that people couldn’t even tell you where their food comes from aside from in the grocery store. When in reality, about 90 percent of the food grown in America comes from a family farm.

It really saddens and frustrates me to see this happen, which is one of the reasons why I became an ag communicator. One of my greatest passions is helping to educate people where their food comes from and how it’s grown. But with anti-ag groups presenting misinformation, it’s sometimes hard to give people a firsthand look into what it is REALLY like on the farms across America. That is why I am so excited to share with you the new documentary, Farmland!

farmland poster

Released in theaters today, Farmland lets you step inside the world of farming and take an intimate look at the lives of farmers and ranchers in their ‘20s, all of whom are now responsible for running their farm and producing the food we all depend on.

As the trailer said, “When people see farmers, they think GMOs, organic, certified organic, all natural, treading an animal humanely” and all of the other buzz words that the media reports on, but what they don’t think about is that the farmer growing their food is a regular person just like you and me. And farming isn’t just a job to them, it’s their livelihood. Their lives depend on ensuring that their crops and/or livestock are healthy or nutritious. Not only because they feed them to their own family, but because hundreds and thousands of people are depending on them. To the outside eye, making sure that happens might look easy.  But from firsthand experience, I can tell you that farming is anything but.

“We put so much time and so much effort into making something happen, when it finally does happen, we’re pretty proud of it.” – Farmland.

Thanks to the Indiana Soybean Alliance, the Indiana Farm Bureau, and BASF, I had the opportunity to attend an advanced screening of the movie and I absolutely loved it! I’m not sure if it was because it was such a great representation of the different areas of farming and what all it takes to be grow the food we all depend on, or because of how proud it made me feel to be a part of agriculture, but I truly hope that everyone takes the time to watch it! (Oh and maybe bring a tissue just in case, as I may have gotten a little tear-y eyed at the end.)

Farmland and meeting Leighton Cooley

We got to meet one of the farmers from the movie, Leighton Cooley! A fourth generation poultry farmer, Leighton operates four farms in georgia with his father. In addition to chickens, he also has a cow-calf operation and grows hay. Leighton and his wife have two sons.

Farmland will be released in select theaters across the country starting TODAY! Please check www.FarmlandFilm.com for screening dates and locations. In Indiana, it will be showing at the Landmark Keystone Theater in Indianapolis.

If you don’t see a theater near you, their Facebook page said to send them a message with your email address and they’ll add you to the list to receive updates about the digital download and DVD release of the film.

Please do me, and yourself, a favor and go see this film! I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

Chelsea

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Caring for the Caretakers – Celebrating Farmers on National Ag Day

Farmers are caretakers. They care for their crops, to ensure they’re the highest quality products for consumers; their animals, to help them grow healthy and protect them from the elements; their equipment, to ensure that it runs correctly to get the job done; their family, to provide for them, love them, and help guide them in their lives; and also for the land, to ensure that it is around for many generations to come.

I was reading a blog where the author was talking about her husband, a dairy farmer, who when his alarm goes off at 4 a.m. each morning, doesn’t hit snooze like the majority of people (myself included some mornings), but instead, “jumps up, splashes water on his face, gets dressed, laces up his work boots, and heads out the door to the barn.”

Imagine doing that, every day of the year. No sleeping in, no sick days, no weather delays…4 a.m. sharp. His cows depend on him, and as a farmer, there’s no option of quitting or letting them down.

If you’re asking yourself why someone would want to do that, she answers it in her very next line. “It’s simple—dairy farmers like Scott work relentlessly hard 365 days a year. Deep within their hearts and souls, they genuinely care for their land, for their cattle and for their family.”

And she is exactly right. Her husband doesn’t think about himself, or how tired be may be…his cows, and his farm, are his first priority. They don’t need us to care for them, they don’t ask for recognition… but I think they deserve it!

What they’re doing is so vital to our society, but there have been many times where they don’t always get the recognition and “care” that they deserve in return. The agriculture community cares about farmers, but we want others to join us too!

This week we are celebrating National Ag Week, with Tuesday, March 25, being National Ag Day. Sponsored by the Agriculture Council for America, it’s a day to recognize and celebrate agriculture and the farmers who keep the industry going.

In our country, we are so blessed to have abundant, quality, accessible and affordable food, yet it isn’t always appreciated. Being 3-4 generations removed from the farm, consumers aren’t as informed about where their food comes from and all of the work and “care” that goes into it from farmers all across America.

This isn’t because farmers try to hide things from the public, or don’t want people to know about their food. It’s exactly the opposite! If you talk to a farmer, sharing their knowledge with others is something they actually enjoy doing.

Unfortunately though, in the last couple of years, all that’s been heard, or at least publicized about agriculture on the internet and news publications, are the “issues”. Most of the time, what reaches the public is misinformation, and overly emotionalized exaggerations from anti-ag groups with large marketing budgets, not from the true source, the farmer.

But in the last year, which was actually named the Year of the Farmer, the agriculture community and farmers have made great strides in trying to better connect with consumers to tell their stories and educate people about where their food comes from. As a member of the agriculture community and having grown up around farming, I am so thrilled to see agriculture be highlighted and honored on the national level.

Here are just a few examples:

So God Made a Farmer

So God Made a Farmer” was the name given to a speech given by the radio broadcaster Paul Harvey at a 1978 FFA convention. The speech was used in a commercial by Dodge Ram during the fourth quarter of Super Bowl XLVII in honor of farmers. Also, in support of farming, Dodge agreed to donated money for each view of the video, totaling $1,000,000, to the FFA Foundation. This goal was reached in less than five days.

The Great American Wheat Harvest

The Great American Wheat Harvest is a documentary film that will tell the story of hard-working custom harvesters who travel from the heart of Texas to the Canadian border harvesting the wheat that feeds our Great Country and the World. This film is being produced by award-winning Director and Producer, Conrad Weaver. It shares the challenges that are now threatening that way of life passed on from generation from generation. Much has changed and from a historical perspective. It is important to document the lifestyle and heritage before it is lost. The Great American Wheat Harvest Movie is the behind-the-scenes look and tribute to those working daily to produce our food and those gathering the harvest.

Farmland the Movie -I get to attend a screening of this movie on Thursday and I’m can’t wait!

Through this film from award-winning director, James Moll, you’ll step inside the world of farming for a first-hand glimpse into the lives of young farmers and ranchers. You’ll learn about their high risk jobs and the passion for a way of life that’s been passed down from generation to generation.

Why I Farm

This year, in honor of all farmers, Beck’s Hybrids has started a movement. A movement that tells the story of the American farmer. The “Why I Farm” movement pays tribute to farmers for their hard work, dedication, and passion to a job that they do selflessly, seven days a week. Through video, 16 Midwest farmers have shared their farming stories and the emotion and passion they have for what they do is inspiring. The video above is one of my favorites from their campaign!

Each of these videos highlight different aspects of farming and agriculture, but they have one common theme, they show that farmers really do CARE about what they do and CARE about the quality of their products.

During Ag Week, I want to encourage you to make more of an effort to learn and understand how food and fiber products are produced. But don’t just rely on searching Google! Get out there and talk to farmers, your local Farm Bureau, and agriculture organizations in your area. And join in on your local Ag Day celebrations!

For starters, if you’re in the downtown Indy area, stop by the state house and join Indiana’s Family of Farmers in their Ag Day Celebration! IFOF Ag Day Flyer

From watching and learning from my grandpa and family on the dairy farm, to interviewing and talking with farmers on a daily basis, I have witnessed that farmers truly are caretakers.

Please join me in expressing care for farmers and thanking them…not only on National Ag Day, but every day throughout the year, as they do for us.

For more on National Ag Week, National Ag Day Agriculture and Farmers, check out the links below:

 

(Header image graphic by BoilermakerAg.com – please give proper photo credits if shared and do not crop out logo. Thank you – share away! Photos for this graphic provided by Agriculture Council of America and Summerhouse Studios Photography.)

 

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