Knowledge Center Blog

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Connecting to Ag

You’ve probably heard at some point a statement similar to the following:
“Less than 2% of the population is directly involved in agriculture” or “a very small percentage of the population has a direct tie to agriculture.”  These are common statements when discussing the importance of agriculture and agricultural education.  In the last week or so however, I have read a statement in two different articles that made me pause…the majority of people in rural areas are 2-3 generations removed from the farm.
Yes, you read that right, a large portion of people living in rural areas are 2-3 generations removed from the farm.  When we talk about the population as a whole, or those living in urban areas that is easy to understand, but when talking about rural areas specifically?  I have to admit that number surprised me more than a little bit.  It is easy to assume that for those living in rural areas, the exposure to agriculture is greater, and the opportunities to be involved in agriculture are much more available…but the truth of the matter is, people across the country, in both rural and urban areas, are becoming more removed from an understanding of the day to day joys, struggles and experiences of farming.
Why does this matter?  Why even bring it up?  Because we also live in a time when consumer demand is driving food trends more than ever, when people are paying attention to the food that they buy, and when the first place people go for information is largely social media and the internet.  We live in a time when a simple Google search on a given topic pulls up a ton of information – but weeding through what is true, what is misconstrued and what is flat out wrong can be difficult and time consuming – and time is a precious commodity for many people.
The fact that almost everyone is at least 2-3 generations removed from the farm (often more in more urban areas) means that it is more important than ever for those involved in agriculture to be proactive in telling their story and sharing what they do, how they do it and why.  Those who are still involved in farming need to be willing to visit with those who do not have a connection to agriculture and listen to their concerns, share information, and connect with an open mind.  It is incredibly important for consumers to connect with farmers, to visit with someone who knows about agriculture and farming from a firsthand perspective, who can put a face and a personal connection with the food that they eat.  It is equally important for farmers to listen to those consumers with an open mind, to understand that they have legitimate concerns and are overwhelmed with the mixed information they are receiving, and be willing to give honest answers to even the hard questions.
With less than 2% of our population directly involved in agriculture, bringing agriculture to the population has become a challenge – and both consumer and farmer need to actively participate in connecting.  This article from Financial Post does a great job of putting this into perspective…check it out!
Monday, December 11, 2017
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