Telling the True Story of South Dakota Agriculture

Posted: 9/21/2009

Posted by:  Steve Dick

The documentary film "Food Inc" was released nationally this summer, but no major theaters in South Dakota showed the film, and it has received limited attention in our state.  However, that may change this week.  A Sioux Falls chiropractor is sponsoring a free showing of the film on Tuesday, Sept. 22, in Sioux Falls. 

According to the film's web site:  "In Food, Inc., filmmaker Robert Kenner lifts the veil on our nation's food industry, exposing the highly mechanized underbelly that has been hidden from the American consumer with the consent of our government's regulatory agencies, USDA and FDA. Our nation's food supply is now controlled by a handful of corporations that often put profit ahead of consumer health, the livelihood of the American farmer, the safety of workers and our own environment."  

It is no secret that the structure of modern agriculture has changed.  But the day-to-day work of producing food for the world's tables is still done on family farms.  According to the American Farm Bureau Federation, 98 percent of all U.S. farms are owned by individuals, family partnerships or family corporations. Just two percent of America's farms and ranches are owned by non-family corporations. Many of these farms are incorporated for legitimate business and tax reasons, the same way a dry cleaner or other small business might incorporate.

In South Dakota alone, more than 30,000 farm families work every day to provide a safe and nutritious food supply.  Several of those families opened the doors to their operations this summer and hosted open house events that were attended by hundreds of their neighbors and community members.  Check out the real faces of South Dakota agriculture here

The Food Inc film is just one of a number of recent attempts to demonize modern agricultural production.  An August TIME Magazine article was a one-sided criticism of U.S. food production, ignoring soaring productivity levels and farmers' dedication to animal care and protecting the environment.  A number of agricultural organizations and farmers have spoken out against the opinionated approach of the article, including an Agritalk interview with Daren Williams, NCBA executive director, a letter to TIME editors from Bob Stallman, president of American Farm Bureau Federation, and comments from Pork magazine associate editor Rick Jordahl.

I plan to see the film and encourage anyone interested in supporting South Dakota agriculture and farm families to do the same if you have the opportunity.  It is important to counter the film's myths and provide positive stories and examples of how farm families care for their animals and our state's natural resources.  Click here to get information on tickets and more details.

Allowing activists to take control of the messages about modern agriculture harms farmers and ultimately, all consumers.  Improving efficiency and productivity in agriculture has delivered the world's safest and most affordable food supply to US consumers.  These productivity gains are even more important as we look at decreasing arable land and a growing global population. 

You can find resources to address misinformation and misconceptions from the film at A Forbes commentary titled "What Food Activists Ignore" also provides a balanced perspective on the film's hype.


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