I’m so sick of the anti-“big ag” narrative.
Show some gratitude. “Big ag” is the reason you have cotton sheets on your bed every night. It’s the reason you have coffee in your cup every morning. It’s the only way you are guaranteed a plethora of alcoholic beverage choices in the evening after work. “Big Ag” offers us clothes on our backs, towels after we shower, blankets to keep us warm.
Less than 2 percent of the population of North America are farmers and ranchers, and our entire existence depends on them all day every day. No different than when we use Apple or Samsung as “big cell phone,” Chevy or Toyota as “big automobile,” or Facebook as “big social,” for some reason … big ag is bad.
Weird. This totally baffles me. Why is that?
People generally want to feel connected to their food, yet they have never been more further removed from it. And we live in such a place where perhaps people have never been able to be more connected while remaining so divided. Case in point: Sometimes when I highlight the work of “big ag,” people think I’m against small-scale farmers. Well how silly. Of course no one is saying small-scale farmers are bad! What sort of jerk would be against the local farmers market and supporting your community? Come on now.
People have this perception that agriculture should be romantic. Like red barns, bib overalls — you know, the “good ol’ days.” But the truth is? We are better than the good ol’ days. Farmers today are doing more with less. They can raise enough livestock with “no antibiotics ever” and food to offer you — the end consumer — all the choices at your fingertips. It’s the reason your dogs and cats are “spoiled rotten” with the best food, the reason you have imported coffee everyday (which no one seems to question that daily transportation and environmental cost … hmm.) chocolate and bananas and pineapple in New York City in January and everything in between. Why is this a bad thing? This is amazing!
In my opinion, people think it’s bad because they don’t understand it. The truth is that large-scale farmers have an immense number of regulations to follow, and sustainability, animal health, and the environment are at the forefront of their mind every day. Farmers today use less and safer pesticides than in previous decades. It’s not just a job, it’s a family legacy. There are drones to monitor fields, robots to milk cows and “fitbits” to monitor their health. Methane can be captured on farms and turned into power or fuel, the list goes on.
Technology is embraced all day, every day in every aspect of our lives. It’s cool! And very prevalent in farming today, yet we take it all for granted. Perhaps it’s time we as a society talk to more large scale farmers and learn something. They are real people, and they are the reason we live in a land of such abundance.
Farmers, growers, ranchers, farm workers, scientists, agribusiness professionals and ag teachers: THANK YOU. We salute you. All of you.
Michelle Miller, the Farm Babe, is a farmer, public speaker and writer who has worked for years with row crops, beef cattle, and sheep. She believes education is key in bridging the gap between farmers and consumers.