A lot of what is happening in our world of farming is being driven by marketing that happens well after food leaves the farm. Labels are applied, misleading ads are run, misconceptions are often conveniently left to linger in our consumers' minds.
The marketing done by the food industry is often not concerned with the facts and the common practice now seems to be to repeat these lies until they become truth by perception.
This puts farmers in a unique position. We can make the choice to stand up for fact and reason and sell our product based on its true qualities.
Or we can make the choice to join the fear mongering campaigns to try and sell our products by misleading the public.
Nearly all of us are making choices to farm differently than our neighbor. We all mitigate risk in different way, we all have different needs and expectations from our farms. But we all also respect our neighbors and their decisions - so let's pass along that respect to the consumers!
There are some truths about agriculture and farming that we must all bear witness to. It is our duty to speak these freely and frequently because the food industry is not going to do it for us!
1. The quality of the farmer is not defined by the size of the farm.
All too often I see marketing that touts small farms as superior over large farms. As farmers we know that nearly all large and small farmers alike are good at their jobs, dedicated to their farms. So let's share that idea with the public instead of jumping on the bandwagon to judge our neighbor based on how many acres he covers or how many cows he calves.
2. Nearly all food comes from family farms!
In both the United States and Canada nearly 97% of farms are family owned. As farmers we need to stop using terms like "corporate farmers" and start embracing the reality that nearly all of our food is grown by families. Sometimes on very small farms, sometimes on huge farms - sometimes by a single farmer, sometimes by three generations of farm families.
3. All meat and dairy sold is antibiotic free!
It is illegal to send any animal or animal product for processing with even trace amounts of antibiotic. We know this! But we often forget to share that fact with our consumers because we assume everyone knows this.
4. Both conventional and organic farmers use pesticides safely!
The food industry has gleefully allowed the "organic equals pesticide free" myth to perpetuate. As farmers we know that both conventional and organic farmers rely on pesticides and we also know they use them safely and responsibly!
Don't be part of the problem by allowing our buyers to continue to be fooled by that marketing.
5. Modern agriculture is better than ever before in history!
We are growing more food, fuel and fiber, more safely than ever before. We are using fewer inputs and resources, less toxic chemicals.
We are embracing new farming practices and technology every single day to increase our sustainability and reduce our footprint.
We are offering our consumers more choices than ever before in history, all while still maintaining the safest and most affordable food in the world!
Be proud of agriculture. Be proud of our industry. Let's tell our stories and sell our products without using the fear and myths and instead rely on truth!
Kate Lambert grew up in northern Illinois, not on a farm but active in FFA and showing livestock.
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