10 Things Farmers Are Tired Of Hearing
An old saying states that you shouldn’t bite the hand that feeds you. Not many have an interest in taking up farming as a lifestyle or career, yet in nearly 2015, the general public is constantly questioning and belittling what it takes for farmers to get food onto everyone's plates.
1. Food in the grocery store isn't safe.
Do you have any idea how much planning, blood, sweat, stress, anxiety, time, heart, and passion (bodily fluid phrases used figuratively) went into what you're looking at on the grocery store shelf? I didn't think so. So why on earth would the person who went through all of that, grow and sell anything less than safe food? We're not out for a profit (although that's always a plus), we're trying to feed the growing world.
2. Organic is healthier than conventional produce.
No. Just no. Stop. Quit. Simmer down. We are both simply different types of farmers that are working hand in hand to provide nutrition to the world. The world cannot survive on organic farming alone. Everyday farmers are being asked to do more with less. Do you realize that people in other countries are starving? And American's (with a 1/3 obesity rate) are being picky about how our food is grown? Please do us all a favor and don't listen to the hype, get scared, and fall into the trend. Instead, talk to a farmer. Visit a farm. Read SCHOLARLY articles that have done the research.
3. Conventional produce is saturated in pesticides.
Raise your hand if your favorite part of buying produce is finding it infested with bugs! Most consumers' number one complaint is that they find insects in their vegetables. I'm sorry, but you can't have your cake and eat it too. Veggies are grown outside. Pesticides help us get perfect, clean produce. Also, did you know that organic farmers use just as much if not more pesticides? The difference? Their pesticides cannot be synthetic and must originate from a "natural" source. However, because it is less effective and less regulated, they are able to and have to use more of their "approved" pesticides to take care of the issues at hand.
4. All farms are evil corporations. What happened to the family farmer?
Pardon my french. But hi, we're still here! Yes hello, hi there. 96.4% of the crop-producing farms in the U.S. are owned by families, and they represent 87% of all the agricultural value generated. Just like the rest of the world, we've gotten very good at what we do. Compare today's family farmers with those in 1950, and we grow 262% more food with less labor, seeds, feed, fertilizer, etc. Yes, we employ others to help us at our farms. Feeding the world is a big job. In fact, agriculture jobs include 15% of the U.S. workforce! Don't get me started on labor issues, that will come later. Just hang tight.
5. GMO’s are the devil. The voldemort of our world.
Let me guess, you read that title, and for some reason that you can't put a finger on, I just basically made you feel like I murdered your first born child? For some unrealistic reason, these three letters G - M - O have struck a deep, dark nerve in the general public's eye. GMO's are only present in EIGHT, let me pause and say that again for added effect....EIGHT items allowed on the market. Majority of genetically modified crops are fed to livestock; because they have to eat too. Hardly any of your produce you see in the grocery store is the big scary GMO word. Here's the list: Corn, Soybeans, Canola, Alfalfa, Cotton, Squash, Sugar Beets, and Papaya. That is all. While I'm ranting, why would us in Non-GMO world label our stuff as Non-GMO? Do you see water bottles labeled "Non-Soda"? No, you are educated on the fact that it's not soda. Most GMO's are found in packaged foods. Eat healthy fresh produce and kill two birds with one stone if that makes you feel better. But stop driving daggers and death threats into the heart, soul, and lives of those farmers who are killing themselves to find answers to feeding our starving population.
6. Illegal farm labor is taking away jobs from Americans.
I will keep this short and simple. Nobody with U.S. citizenship wants to work as hard as "illegal farm labor". You can lead a horse to water but you can't make them drink. Many companies offer these jobs to Americans first. I spoke with a good farming friend recently. He's in an area where there is an unemployment rate of 15%. That's about one in seven people in that town. They posted 700 jobs for their season in that area, do you want to guess how many bites they got? Six. Do you want to know how many of those six stuck with the job for more than two week? Zero. My conclusion? American's want the dream. They're too good for hard, physical labor that will get their nice clean clothes sweaty and dirty and would rather sit at home collecting welfare. Our problem isn't illegal immigrants taking American jobs. Our problem is our own citizens are too lazy to do the jobs immigrants will gladly do for us in order to put food on their family's plates.
7. Farmers only care about making a profit; nothing else.
For every every dollar that is spent on food, farmers only see on average 16 cents of that dollar. Everything else goes into getting it from the field to your plate. In 1980, farmers received 31 cents out of every dollar. Farmers farm because it is what they are passionate about and what they have always had a deep instilled love for. We have to care about more than a profit to stay in the agriculture industry. There are far more profitable industries that receive far less negativity from their customers. We care about our consumers. We care about our land. We care about our environment. We care about a lot more than you think.
8. Farmers are uneducated country bumpkins.
Joe's great grandfather fed 19 people. Joe's grandfather fed 26 people. Joe's father feeds 155 people. Joe will have to feed 155 people and counting. If Joe was uneducated, how would he figure out how to do that? Most farmers make their kids to go to college and get a degree before coming back to the farm. Agriculture is a degree that you can pursue. There is more to farming than everyone thinks. Give us some credit. Every day we're doing more than we've ever done before because we're smart, talented, and experienced in our field (pun intended).
9. I searched ____ on the internet and read that....
"You can't believe everything you read on the internet." - Abraham Lincoln.
Please stop with that. The problem in today's world are things like WebMD. You're going to search for the answers you want to find and then go "Okay, case closed!". Do not believe what you read on the internet! Unless it's a study from a reputable source, don't even think about sharing it on your Facebook page. Better yet, look at the packaging on your food. Pick up the phone and call the human who put their love and passion into getting that product to the grocery store. Ask THEM your questions. Almost any farmer will invite you out to see their farm. If they don't, I'll be the first to tell you that they're doing the industry a disservice.
10. We're tired of you for lack of a better word...being mean.
As my mother once told me..."If you don't have something nice to say, don't say it at all". If you don't agree with other people's opinions, that is completely fine. Be an adult and agree to disagree. Do not go out attacking people for doing what they do and how they do it.