Monday, May 05, 2003

Farmers not Agriculture

My trip last weekend to Michigan turned out one the best trips I have had, maybe ever. I spent Saturday afternoon and evening brainstorming about how we can do a better job of supplying the truth to the consumer. It concluded with a small round table discussion of Detroit urbanites giving their perception of food production.

The number one image problem in food production is Farm Subsidies. They were appalled that a farmer with $300,000 in income may have $100,000 of that coming in the form of a subsidy. Their perception was that “Corporate” farms would receive a payment in addition to net income. They had no clue that if a farmer had $3 million in revenue, that it was gross dollars and not net income. They had no idea that over half of the proceeds of the “Farm Bill” go into food programs and not to farmers.

So many things came from this meeting, but the final thing that I will tell you about was NATURE. They said city people live and work in an artificial world, so when they are not working they want to experience NATURE. Farmers are correlated with nature, not agriculture. Agriculture is business and resembles the world they live in, whereas farmers are salt of the earth history of our country.

The bottom line is that Faces of Agriculture must incorporate this type of focus group roundtable all across the country with both soccer moms and farmers. Yeah “soccer” - they said baseball was gone too. One final thing, all of this happened because one insightful individual - Jody Pollok, Executive Director of Michigan Corn. Thanks Jody…

California breathe, but don’t relax

As you know the “weenies” have been prancing around the country trying to enact laws to chase livestock agriculture (or should I say farming) out off of U.S. soil. We got a break in California. Read the entire story from the LA Times, but don’t relax. Be sure to tell more people than ever what we really do on farms. I guarantee that the “weenies” will only fire up and come harder next time. Following is a small sample from the LA Times Friday.

A state bill that would have prohibited the confinement of calves and pregnant sows in cramped crates was withdrawn Thursday before facing the Assembly's Agriculture Committee.
A staff member for Assemblywoman Loni Hancock (D-Berkeley), who wrote the bill, said she did not have the votes for approval. Given the state's pressing budget crisis, Hancock decided the bill might not be given adequate attention. She plans to reintroduce it next year.

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