Ms. Laetitia Mailhes,
Thank you so much for you blog post, Stand Up For Agriculture, and your enthusiasm to encourage others to learn more about food production and becoming engaged in the process. I could not agree more that we need more consumers to become aware of their food sources and how food travels from pasture to plate.
It is time people stand up for Agriculture and become engaged by “get closely acquainted with your farmers; learn to discriminate between all the various misleading certification labels for meat, milk and eggs; read the ingredients’ label before buying any packaged goods; educate yourself as needed about the issues at stake, and engage your friends and family about them; join a community garden; learn or teach how to cook/preserve/etc.; get involved in your kid’s school to improve food and/or develop a food curriculum; join a local initiative to change regulation in order to promote urban farming…” I could not have said it better myself.
If you take a look at efforts by farmers and ranchers, we are promoting these projects and working to be more transparent and accountable through our use of social media and community outreach. Take my work for example. I am a 22-year old cattleman in Arkansas. I grew up on a family ranch, attended college in Oklahoma, worked in a Texas cattle feedyard (owned by one of the largest meat processors in the world), then chose to return to Arkansas where I now take care of cattle on another family farm. All of this and my thoughts are documented through my blog (www.AgricultureProud.com), videos on YouTube (AgProud), countless photos on Facebook, and daily updates on my Twitter account (AR_ranchhand). You may be surprised to find I am not the only food producer that goes to this extent to share the real story of production Agriculture.
In my travels, working on livestock operations across the U.S., I have witnessed life on the family farm in Arkansas, Natural beef production in Wyoming, and Feedyard beef production in Texas, and all of these operations have something in common. These farmers and ranchers all care about the livestock in their care and the environment in which they and their families live and work. Pardon me, but I do not see New York Lawyers or L.A. Actresses living and raising food in the mountains of Wyoming year round. In one form or another we all love your ideal of the farmer that “provides us with carbon sequestration in the soil, enhances the microlife that plants feed off, nurtures biodiversity and ecosystems, upholds symbiotic relationships between plants and animals, conserves water, upholds traditional practices, sustains communities and local economies, and, lest we forget, offers us nutritious and tasty food.” But producing the amount of food we do today is harder than just waving a wand and making the world an ideal place. Thanks to the use of modern technology today’s average American farmers produces enough food for 144 people each year.
The American Farmer today represents less than 2% of this country’s population. Until I see every urban dweller caring for cattle during calving season or walking irrigation lines on the hay crop, you have no reason to complain. Before you criticize “corporate agriculture” did you know that 97% of U.S. cattle operations are classified as family farms. Those farmers also provide 75% of this nation’s wildlife habitat.
I could continue for pages about how I have witnessed first hand how American farmers work hard to improve their environment. After all, if we do not take care of our land, how will it take care of us? Thank you for your concern about food production and the farmers and ranchers out there. But before you label us as the one “that brings us about 30 percent of our greenhouse gas emissions, hormone- and antibiotic-fed beef, genetically-modified corn and soybeans, processed food devoid of nutrients, toxic contamination of our watersheds, soil erosion, slavery in the fields, salmonella-tainted eggs, deforestation, destruction of agricultural biodiversity and traditional farming practices in the name of the global free market, speculative trading on commodity prices, etc., etc..” take a moment to get to know a real farmer or rancher. Just because many of us do not claim the label of “organic” or “natural” does not mean we do not care about the food we produce.
Take a look at more entries on my blog and maybe you’ll learn a little more about real food production. Any comment, questions, and criticisms are welcomed.