Thursday, March 1, 2012

Producing Excellence in a Changing Agricultural Landscape

Submitted by Jennifer Armbruster, Farm Credit

Consumers are craving information about how their food gets from farm to table, and Farm Credit has identified four agricultural trends for 2012 through its Producing Excellence program, an online collection of stories celebrating the contributions of the American farmers and ranchers Farm Credit has been serving for 95 years.

1. The growing connection between consumers and producers

72 percent of consumers know nothing or very little about farming or ranching, but nearly the same number say their purchase decisions are impacted by how food is grown and raised.

Producing Excellence, features the stories of Fred Fleming, co-owner of Shepherd’s Grain, and Jimmy Carter of Southern Belle Farm, who are committed to raising agriculture awareness.   

2. Agriculture careers offer a bright spot in the U.S. economy

Agriculture is attracting the next generation of farmers from diverse backgrounds, including James and Sandy Stepp, who left the IT world to establish the Wichita Buffalo Company, and Joe Freeman, who retired from his corporate career to set up a cattle operation in Mississippi.

3. Interest in locally grown food

Organic grower Scott Edwards of Fertile Crescent Farm sells the majority of his produce at the local farmer’s market and College-professor-turned-producer Dennis Derryck organizes small teams of vegetable growers to deliver on a unique distribution model in a South Bronx community.

4. Rise in female farm operators

More than 1 million women operate farms in the U.S.—a 22 percent increase since 1997. Third-generation farmer Mary Alice Garay, owner and operator of a large chile farm, and Mary Fritz, a fourth-generation rancher, are examples of this growing trend.

Read more about these producers and dozens more who are shaping the story of Agriculture in America.