Young farmer works to tell the other side of the story

Agriculture and the U.S. food production system seem to be under constant attack these days, with the movie Food Inc. and the recent Time magazine cover story on food being the latest examples.

So what do young farmers think of the constant criticism of what they do?

“It’s hard to take it sitting down,” says Jason Kvols, a 35-year old farmer from Laurel, Nebraska. “You know, we get automatically defensive of our industry, and I think what needs to be done is more opportunities for farmers and ranchers to get into situations where they have a voice-where they can speak out and say ‘this is what I do and this is why I do it’.”

Kvols, who serves on the Nebraska Farm Bureau board of directors, was recently part of a panel discussion following the showing of the Food Inc. movie in Lincoln.  He says it was a good experience and an excellent opportunity to present the other side of the story. Kvols says social networking, such as Twitter and Facebook, is also a great tool.

“Whether it’s sending out a simple You Tube video on our operations, or sending out a Twitter telling people what we’re doing, I think that’s the avenue that we need to head to communicate the message of agriculture,” says Kvols, “that we’re doing the best that we can to provide what the consumer wants, and also keeping the cost as low as we can.”

But Kvols also thinks it is important to listen to what consumers are saying.

“I understand that we need to be sensitive to what the consumers need, because ultimately they’re telling us what they want through pocketbook-and as a farmer and rancher, we want to provide what they want,” he says. “I think it’s going to take more of the dialogue back and forth to say ‘what do you want, what can I provide for you’, and keep working through these difficult issues.”

Kvols raises 700 acres of corn and soybeans in northeast Nebraska.

Jason Kvols (10 min MP3)

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