This is National Ag Week, with March 18 being Ag Day, a day to recognize and celebrate the abundance provided by agriculture.
While I could spend the time today sharing with you how great I think agriculture is, and how much I adore the people who grow or raise agricultural products, I will not. Instead I want to celebrate the consumer – the user of the agricultural products.
Consumers are essential for agriculture. They buy agricultural products (i.e. meat, milk, fuel, pharmaceutical/medical supplies, fruits, vegetables, seeds, byproducts of the various ag enterprises, and more). While survival on this planet would be difficult (impossible) without agriculture, we are in this together – consumers and farmers/ranchers.
Some of the specific things I want to thank the consumers for:
1. Making food sexy and fun again. The “foodie” movement has allowed for persons to look at and taste food in a whole new light. People from all walks-of-life are enjoying trying new dishes, new flavor and texture combinations, and new venues (i.e. food trucks) for getting their food. As someone who loves food from all corners of the earth, I love that this is happening, and so do my taste buds.
2. Showing interest in agriculture. There has been a lot of renewed interest in knowing how food is grown or raised. People want that connection with their food; and I think that is great. Farmers and ranchers know what they do is awesome, I mean not everyone gets to witness the miracle of an animal birth(s), look out over a crop that was grown by your own hands, or sit upon a horse who helps you get your daily work done. While consumers may not be able to do these things, they want a chance to experience them.
3. Questioning agriculture. You will probably hear farmers and ranchers say they do something because that is the way it has always been done. In agriculture there is so much risk involved, that farmers and ranchers are afraid to make drastic changes without knowing the outcome, or without having an incentive for their investment. Consumers are starting to question farmers and ranchers about why they do the things they do. While this has come with some growing pains from farmers and ranchers, ultimately it has helped identify areas where changes can and should be made. Things can and will be better as a result of it.
4. Establishing relationships with your local agriculturalists. I am seeing/hearing/reading about more and more relationships developing between consumers and farmers/ranchers. Consumers can put a face to their food. They are getting to meet the people who grow or raise their food, either where the food is sold, via a farm/ranch tour, or a field day on a farm/ranch. Farmers and ranchers are generally surprised that someone wants to see how they plant a crop, how they move livestock to another pasture, or how they harvest grain – but consumers want to see/read/listen about these things, and they want the farmer/rancher to explain it to them. Shared agricultural experiences, between a consumer and a farmer/rancher, are becoming more and more popular.
5. Increased transparency. Consumers want to know the ins-and-outs of how their food was grown or raised. Until recently, this was not something that many people really cared about, and farmers/ranchers being the private people they are, never shared that information… until now. More and more farmers/ranchers/ and agriculturalists are taking to social media to share the ag story. To share what they do on a daily basis, and to bring the farm or ranch to the masses who can’t go to the farm or ranch.
Growing and raising food is a hard job that is not for the faint of heart, but there is a renewed interest in food production. This is a great time to be an agriculturalist and a consumer!
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