Tuesday, March 23, 2021

4.2.58. Kansas Ag Day 2021

Sunrise tree, March 16, 2021
4. 2. 58.
  • Today's U.S. consumer is 4 generations removed from the farm.
  • Farmers and ranchers make up just 2 percent of the U.S. population.
  • The average age of U.S. farmers/ranchers is 58.

Anyone who knows me realizes that numbers aren't my thing:

Give me words.
Give me photos.
Don't make me do math!

But on this Kansas Agriculture Day, it's a reality check to think about the numbers.

The governor of Colorado just asked people to NOT eat meat on March 20. Thankfully, there were some well-organized efforts that countered that message with the verve of the lady in the old Wendy's commercials. Beef producers were happy to answer the question, "Where's the beef" and encourage it to be on the family's dinner table - on March 20 and any other day.
The Rattlesnake Pasture, August 2020 - Randy and his ancestors have been caring for cattle in this pasture for more than 125 years. 

Bill Gates was on "60 Minutes" this month, touting lab-grown meat as a solution to climate change. He and his wife, Melinda, are now the largest land owners in the U.S. His influence should be a concern for farmers and ranchers.

May be an image of 2 people, including Kim Moore Fritzemeier, tree and text that says 'SUPPORT LOCAL FARMERS & RANCH ERS #meatin theFence Post'

Like many others, I changed my Facebook profile photo to promote beef consumption, and, as usual, we did our part in consuming the product that we raise.

But back to those numbers: 4.2.58.

Several years ago, a friend shared an article about them from a farm publications. What better day to think about them than Kansas Ag Day 2021.

Those numbers mean the U.S. ag population is aging, shrinking and losing more and more influence with shoppers making food decisions for themselves and their families, according to Deanna Karmazin, an independent ag literacy and curriculum consultant from Lincoln, Nebraska. In her view, the numbers also mean farmers and ranchers need to make better connections with consumers who may not know much about where their food comes from but won’t let that lack of knowledge get in the way of forming strong opinions. 

Same goes for ad agencies, who repeatedly paint an inaccurate picture about agriculture's environmental impact or somehow believe farmers/ranchers don't care about their animals.

According to a survey conducted by the U.S. Farm and Ranch Coalition, 72 percent of today’s consumers know nothing or very little about farming or ranching. That makes sense, when you consider the "2" in the equation. Just 2 percent of the U.S. population has any direct connection to the farm. Still, 69 percent think about food production at least somewhat often, and 70 percent say their purchase decisions are affected by how food is raised.

Those consumers are concerned about their families’ health, the well-being of the environment, and the humane treatment of animals, Karmazin said. And they should be concerned about those things.

However, Karmazin characterizes many of those groups' messages as "anti-agriculture."

“The thing is, they have money,” she said, referring to groups like the Humane Society of the United States, PETA and others that raise millions of dollars to support their lobbying and public relations efforts.  

Of course those very same concerns are central to farm and ranch families, too. The environment and the animals we care for provide our very livelihood.

However, we go back to the equation and realize that consumers aren't necessarily receiving that message. They are 4 generations removed from any connection to a farm or ranch.

The influence of such groups and their messages can be seen much closer to home than one might imagine, Karmazin said. She told about picking up a copy of an elementary school newspaper in Lincoln and finding an article encouraging readers to eliminate all red meat from their diets. She also told about sponsoring a poster contest for children inviting them to imagine the problems for a world without farmers, only to receive entries indicating the world would be a better off without agriculture and its carbon footprint.

If such examples come as a shock in farm and ranch country, Karmazin said, then that’s why they need to be shared. 

She urges farmers and ranchers to put themselves out in front of people, whether physically or through social media, to let them know farmers are real people with families of their own who are not in business to poison the planet or put anyone’s health in jeopardy.

“Talk English, not farmer,” she said. 

I've tried to carry that mission into my blog posts.  

I was a farm daughter first. 

And I've been a farm partner for 40 years. On March 28, we'll celebrate our 40th wedding anniversary. Both of us have been living and working on a family farm our entire lives. (And, just FYI, we both help raise the average farmer's age of 58 in the equation.) 

March 28, 1981

And even though I'm a fifth-generation farmer and a long-time farm partner, I have found that writing about what we're doing has made me pay attention and understand why we do what we do in a new way. 

It's part of why I started a blog in 2010 - and have kept at it since that time. 

It's our story - not the story of a humane society ... or a restaurant wanting to sell burritos ... or an ad agency in a downtown office. 

Kansas Ag Day is not a holiday on the farm or ranch. Today our veterinarian, Dr. Bruce, will be here to test our herd's bulls. On Wednesday and Thursday, we plan to work and vaccinate two groups of baby calves.

 It will be a working "holiday."


Happy Ag Day! If you have a question for this farm family, please ask. You can comment via this blog, interact with me on Facebook through Kim Moore Fritzemeier or email me at rkjbfarms@gmail.com. 

No comments:

Post a Comment