Area City Moms Experience Farm Life

Posted: 8/12/2011

There are many misconceptions about how food today is produced.  The average consumer is bombarded with stories from animal activists, undercover videos, journalists who think they know about today's agriculture, misguided advertising and celebrities who decide they are dieticians and agriculturalists.  There is so much misinformation being thrown around, the average consumer who is generations removed from the farm and does not know a farmer is often confused and mislead to believe today's farms are unregulated "factory farms" that are not environmentally friendly and are abusive to animals as well as employees. 

Those of us involved in production agriculture know these all too common myths and would like nothing more than to lay some misconceptions to rest.  That is exactly what Ag United's program "Moms Day Out on the Farm" hopes to accomplish.  For the second summer, Sioux Falls area moms were welcomed onto area beef, dairy and hog farms.  Forty-Five Sioux Falls area Food Professionals also participated in a similar tour where they visited beef, dairy, hog, egg and vegetable farms. 

Most of the 60 moms and 45 food professionals who participated in the three tours offered this summer have never been on a farm and for a few it was a trip down memory lane.  While touring area farms participants were encouraged to ask questions, and that they did.  Farmers and their families answered questions about their animal's diets, manure management, their equipment, antibiotic uses, animal welfare, housing and everything in between. 

Participants had plenty of opportunity to visit with not only farm families but other agriculture professionals such as:  agronomists, veterinarians, SDSU staff and pharmaceutical representatives.  Tours featured an agronomist who talked about what goes into corn and soybean production as well as a veterinarian who gave a presentation about animal welfare, antibiotics and what different labels mean in the store.   

After the event we conduct a survey to gage what we need to improve on for future events as well as to figure out how successful the event really was.  We received several comments that those in attendance have a better understanding and higher respect for farmers and those involved in agriculture after the day.

While we may not change people's opinions on everything, it is important for agriculture to try its best to be transparent and communicate with the consumer.  By allowing those with a curiosity of how their food is produced who have not been on a farm to visit; we are opening up those doors of communication.   Hopefully the next time an animal rights organization or a celebrity with a PETA agenda make the media, some of these participants may ignore their unfounded rants and may even stick up for agriculture.  With only 1% of the population feeding the other 99% of the world, agriculture needs all the friends and support we can get.


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