“Kelli Garry, tell me what you know about ‘Food, Inc,’” Alysse said to me as I walked into the conference room to have lunch.“Oh, great,” I thought to myself, “Here we go again.”
This was an actual situation that I faced when I lived and worked in the Atlanta, Ga. area in the spring of 2014 Unfortunately, in a big city like Atlanta, people have a very distorted perception of agriculture. As an agricultural communications and leadership major, I feel it’s my duty to the industry to have important conversations with people, like Alysse, who have misconceptions about agriculture. That day, I had to share my story about being involved with agriculture to get her to understand what actually happens in the industry.
Today, only two percent of Americans are involved with production agriculture. That leaves 98 percent of Americans who aren’t involved in the direct production of food for the world. In today’s world focused on entertainment, social media and YouTube videos, it can be very easy for this 98 percent of people to develop their own thoughts and opinions based off of incorrect information or information taken out of context that’s depicted through advertising campaigns, YouTube videos and documentaries.
The mission of the movie, Farmland, is to show the general public not involved with production agriculture about what goes into farming on a daily basis. Essentially, Farmland is the agriculture industry’s answer to all of the hype and protest that goes against farming. Farmland was produced with the support of the U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance in order to depict the next generation of farmers and the passion, work and heart that farmers and ranchers put into their chosen career paths. On Thursday, Nov. 13, the SDSU Swine Club hosted a screening of the film and lined up a panel discussion, including one of the farmers from the film, Ryan Veldhuizen, following the showing.
As an agriculturalist, I was extremely moved by everything the film depicted; the way the filmmakers captured the raw emotion and the passion of the farmers and ranchers in the film hit me right in the feels and even made me tear up on more than one occasion. To me, the filmmakers hit the nail right on the head and depicted in an outstanding manner everything that the agriculture industry stands for.
In South Dakota, we don’t often face situations like the one that I had with Alysse in Atlanta. We come from a fairly rural state so most of the residents are pretty knowledgeable when it comes to farming. A lot of us, whether we’re involved with the agriculture industry or not, may not understand the importance of “agvocating” for the industry.
I know what you’re thinking, “So, why is it so important? You said only two percent of people in the US are involved with producing food. That’s not very many.” It’s true that only two percent of Americans produce our food, but 100 percent of them need to eat.
In the panel discussion on Thursday, Veldhuizen, the farmer from Farmland, said, “Farmers do a great job of producing, but a terrible job of communicating.”
With the world population on track to reach 9 billion people by 2050, it’s more important now than ever for us to know what’s going on in the agriculture industry to ensure that we will have a stable food supply come 2050. SDSU students, it’s our job to either advocate on behalf of farmers or do our part as consumers to do our research and find out what is really happening in the agricultural industry.
Director of Farmland, James Moll said, “Everyone who eats needs to see this film.” So, that includes you. Check out the film, Farmland, on DVD when it’s released sometime in the spring or the summer of 2015. Until then, be curious. Ask questions. Talk to students in the College of Ag & Bio. Find out why we love what we do.
Kelli is an agricultural communications major. She can be reached at [email protected]