Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Farmers, Ranchers and the Food Supply Chain: Share Your Story on National Ag Day

By Mark Biedenfeld, Vice President, Aligned Solutions, CHS

Growing up in rural South Dakota, surrounded by farms and ranches as far as the eye could see, I never gave the food supply chain a second thought. It was intertwined in everything I did—from calving cows to helping with the harvest of the crop—it was our way of life.

You can imagine my concern when I recently read that an astonishing 68 percent of consumers said they don’t know enough about their food and where it comes from, and 21 percent said they’re not at all knowledgeable, yet 92 percent of consumers say it is somewhat or very important to know where their food is coming from.* To me, that’s the perfect invitation for those of us working in agriculture to share everything we know to be good and true about farming. And National Agriculture Day is the perfect opportunity to showcase, educate and celebrate American agriculture.

Companies like CHS, and many others, exist to provide farmers, ranchers and their retailers with products and services they need to raise and market healthy, profitable crops and livestock. In many cases, the local cooperative is one of the largest employers in town.

Recently, CHS took a closer look at the true economic impact that CHS and local cooperatives generate across the country. The study found that CHS’ impact in rural communities supported more than 60,700 jobs directly and indirectly. That means for every job CHS creates itself, there are five more jobs supported in the community.

Having been around cooperatives my entire life I saw first-hand how farming and ranching contributed to my community. From buying equipment at the local dealership to financial support of organizations like 4-H and FFA that encourage young people to start a career in agriculture, all of it contributes to the health and vitality of rural America.

Tomorrow’s farmers are anxious to share their vision for agriculture, and that’s part of the Ag Day celebration too. One hundred students from 46 states will spend National Ag Day (March 21) in Washington, D.C., personally meeting with their elected members of Congress. They are proudly representing the future of farming and the agricultural industry.

Please join me in sharing a farm story with a friend, neighbor or colleague as we celebrate National Ag Day. If you’re lucky enough to know a farmer or rancher, tell them how much you appreciate what they do day in and day out.

*Source: TraceOne

Friday, February 24, 2017

Sustain Farming by Encouraging the Next Generation

Ryan Tipps
Managing Editor, AGDAILY.com

There are many ways that the agriculture community defines sustainability -- it can be in the stewardship of the land, the welfare of farm animals, or in the selection of seeds and crop protection. Sustainability is, and should be, the guiding principle for our work on the farm.

But one of the most important ways that we can cultivate agricultural sustainability is in how we approach and encourage the next generation of farmers and ag professionals. Their passion for the industry, both now and in the future, is what will continue to drive farming further. Connecting with those young people is so critical. By telling their stories in a positive way, giving them the tools and resources needed to thrive, and mentoring them, whether through FFA or 4-H or independently, the current generation has a responsibility to ensure that the next generation wants to follow in the impressive footsteps of food production.

There’s nothing static about the ag industry, and that includes the tools that we use to connect with this younger generation. After all, if we aren’t connecting with the farm youth, then they aren’t getting the support that they deserve. It’s a mobile-driven world, and social media has created a dynamic network for everyone to better understand the nuances of the industry and its people and the decisions that are made at every level. Sometimes that’s as simple as the shared experience of ag -- fueling the passion of our youth is camaraderie over the hard labor and solid work ethic of being raised on a farm, or the first time a youngster drove a tractor, or the knowledge that family will always be there for you and that perseverance pays off. There’s no doubt that there is value in sustainability, but what sometimes gets overlooked is there are important values in it, too.

AGDAILY.com, a National Ag Day sponsor, helps to connect the experiences of our youth and to engage them intellectually and socially. It’s important that the contributions of young farmers be recognized along with those who have been farming for decades. That’s the road toward sustainability. That’s the road for agriculture.