Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Farmers As Community Leaders

Submitted by Frank Holdemeyer, Farm Progress Publications

It's no secret that many consumers have no idea where their food comes from or how it’s produced.  That's especially true as society moves further and further from the farm. Many farm organizations are working to educate consumers on the role of farmers in food production.

But there is another story that should be told …

Besides producing food for consumers around the world, farmers and ranchers donate hours and hours of their time and, often, considerable amounts of money for the benefit of their local communities. They serve on school, bank, local co-op and church boards. Many are lay leaders in their churches. Farmers are likely the first to donate money for community buildings and then lead the fundraising efforts.

Often, farmers park their machinery during the busy planting and harvest seasons to participate in these meetings. 

Many also take on voluntary leadership roles beyond the local community, serving in state and national organizations. Many, many hours are committed and many miles are traveled.

In some states—Iowa, for example—the majority of seats in the state legislature are held by farmers.

I know this because I have worked with Master Farmer Awards programs in Iowa and other states for 40 years. Giving back to the local community and serving in leadership roles is one of the criteria for the award. But I doubt the average consumer ever considers that farmers and ranchers are the backbone of rural America.