It wasn’t that farmers 20 years ago had anything to hide, they just didn’t think to tell the world about what they were doing with their days, and why. That’s all changed and today’s farming population is ready and willing to show consumers what they are doing and why.
My husband and I are no different. We spent the weekend preparing the farm and house for a group of visitors, some familiar with the farm life and others making their first trip to rural America. We will show them our land, irrigation systems and cattle facilities then serve them supper and provide them an opportunity to ask questions and learn more about agriculture in Central Kansas. We love having people on the farm and find farm visits are truly the best way to teach people about the agriculture industry.
This is not the first group we have hosted on our farm and when we bring guest to our fields, we like to not only show off the crops and mother cows, but also provide them with the facts and figures that go into the daily operation and management of our farm.
A few months ago, Derek and I sat down and created a county and state agriculture fact sheet along with a page detailing the number of acres and cattle on our farm. I worked with our local Farm Service Agency to compile figures that show how much crop insurance and direct payments farms in our county receive. We also listed the amount of crop insurance coverage we purchase for each of our crops in addition to the types of herbicides and fertilizers we apply to our fields.
The terms and data doesn’t mean much to everyone that visits our farm but I feel it is important to be upfront and honest about what goes into managing a productive and profitable farm. When people question the need for direct payments and continued support for crop insurance, my husband and I can tell them exactly what we receive and how that money is used. Giving them a sheet with the data allows them to take that home for future reference.
For farmers and ranchers, transparency should be more than showing off the cows and crops, it should include an honest and forth-coming conversation about federal payments, crop insurance and the cost of producing food, fuel and fiber for the world.