Cyndi's Two Cents

It’s not all about us

National Agriculture week offers a great opportunity to highlight the success of the ag industry in this country but this message needs to be shared throughout the year in a way that matters to those with whom you are speaking.  Agriculture has a great story to tell, but why should anyone care?  Don’t make it so much about you.  Make it about them.

Agriculture is a huge economic driver in the Midwest. The sizeable income tax and property tax revenue generated by agriculture helps build and maintain roads and schools across the heartland. Billions more dollars churn into the Midwestern economy from farm machinery manufacturing, agricultural real estate, and the processing and sale of value-added food products.

The productivity of American farmers is second to none in the world, and as the population of this world we live in reaches 7.5 billion and beyond this year, the role of America’s farmers and their contribution to feeding the world becomes more significant. The Agriculture Council of America tells us that in the next 50 years, farmers will need to produce more food than in the previous 10,000 years combined. The most recent population numbers I have seen predict a global population of 9 billion by the year 2045. That’s a lot of folks to feed and clothe. And with that many people, the need to raise the bar on sustainability becomes increasingly important. Less land. Less water. Fewer inputs.

Dr. Adrian Percy, Global head of research & development with Bayer CropScience said recently that agriculture is in a golden age of science and technology.  Calling it the “Age of Acceleration” Percy said the role of agriculture is more significant than ever before.  He said we are experiencing a 4th industrial revolution where technology is merging the physical, digital and biological worlds.  Data, he said, is the new soil.

During Commodity Classic earlier this month, there was a lot of talk about sustainability. Most farmers I know have been practicing sustainability for years. To be economically sound, you must find ways to be more efficient.

According to the United States Department of Agriculture, agriculture is responsible for one of every 12 jobs in this country, yet fewer kids grow up on farms today. Without the daily exposure to life on a farm, it is easier to believe the misinformation being shared about the way American farmers treat their land, air, water, animal, and the people employed on those farms.  Some of those are deliberate lies, but many are simple misunderstandings.

During National Agriculture Week, there is a lot of talk about recognizing and celebrating the abundance provided by agriculture in the United States. We need to share our story every day, not just one week each year. But we need to do it in a way that matters to the people with whom we are sharing our stories.  Remember, it’s about them, not about us.

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