Smith: Educating consumers is more important than it’s ever been. Foundation for Agriculture Executive Director Daniel Meloy says their educational materials are targeted at children, trying to close the gap between urban and rural areas even before that gap begins.
Meloy: What we do is get those into the hands of teachers and classroom volunteers, so that they can educate kids before they become detached, make sure that kids are learning all about where their food comes from before we even hit that detachment mark.
Smith: Meloy says one easy way for farmers to help educate the non-farm public is to do some school visits.
Meloy: It is really effective when kids can actually hear from a real-life farmer or rancher, hear what they do and get to meet somebody who’s actually doing that work. And, it’s even better when that farmer or rancher can come in with education resources, something like our brand-new book of the year all about soybeans called ‘Full of Beans; Henry Ford Grows a Car.’
Smith: Meloy says farmers and ranchers shouldn’t be afraid to step out and educate the non-farm public about modern agriculture. He says consumers are genuinely curious about where their food comes from.
Meloy: Who’s growing it, how they’re growing it, why they’re growing it that way. When it comes down to it, we all really do share the same values. We care about the environment, we want clean water, healthy soil, we want our animals to be well cared for. It’s important for us to share the foundation’s education resources, and then to encourage conversations, so we can bridge that divide between consumers and agriculture.
Smith: Chad Smith, Washington.