In the Planting Safety video released on Monday by the Indiana State Department of Agriculture and Hoosier Ag Today, ISDA Director Don Lamb makes the statement, “We are all in this together.” He was talking about how farmers and consumers both share the roadways and need to take steps to be careful during the planting season as large pieces of farm equipment are moving on rural roads. A farmer himself, Mr. Lamb knows all too well the dangers that farmers and non-farm motorists face during planting season. While his statement may seem a bit cliché, it jumped out at me as being true for more than just traffic safety.
When we think of agriculture, we tend to think of those who produce and those who consume. Both sides often overlook the connection between the two. Even while walking the aisles of grocery superstores, most consumers fail to see their role in agriculture. Likewise, farmers dismiss the feelings, opinions, and attitudes of consumers about agriculture and food production as being uninformed and unimportant.
The reality is that both sides are very much a part of each other’s lives. Consumers depend on farmers to produce nutritious, safe, good tasting food at affordable prices. Farmers need consumers to buy what they produce in a manner they find socially acceptable and at a price that allows farms to make a profit. While this is an oversimplification of the farm economy but is the basic link between farmers and consumers.
There is, however, a wide gulf of misunderstanding and miscommunication between these two groups. Consumers feel they have the right to tell farmers what to produce, how to produce it, and what it should cost. Yet, they fail to understand that they know almost nothing about how food ends up on their store shelves, how it is produced, and what goes into the price. Farmers tend to forget that the customer is always right, even when they are not. We too often dismiss their franken-food phobias and fickle food fads as irrelevant.
Both sides need to remember that “We are all in this together.” A lot more communication and a lot less activism would go a long way toward bringing both sides closer together. Maybe it should start with a greater realization that we are ALL in this together on the roads and at the table.
That’s how I see it.
The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and not of Hoosier Ag Today, its employees, advertisers, or affiliated radio stations.