Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has made headlines for dozens of reasons but one aspect of his candidacy that has caught my attention is his ill-fitting, often awkward looking baseball cap that reads “Make America Great Again.”
The message, although not alarming at first glance, plays to Trump’s message of American failure, mediocrity and his guarantee to restore America to its previous position of super power and world leader. He has created a campaign of fear that plays to those unhappy with the status quo and seeking answers and an immediate solution.
Dr. Brene Brown, speaking recently on Morning Joe, discussed her research into the culture of fear and how it plays a huge part in today’s society, our election process and individual’s daily decision making.
“It’s created this culture of scarcity,” Brown said, with people walk around questioning ‘what am I supposed to be terrorized of and whose fault is it. She credits 9/11 as the catalyst for that sense of fear and blames businesses, organizations and politicians alike for stoking the flames.
“They are using all kinds of schemes to leave you fearful,” Brown said. These organizations, she notes, not only tell you what you should fear but then come in an offer an “overly simplistic” solution to the problem. Insert Trump’s campaign strategy.
Unfortunately, that fear mongering has hit the agriculture industry, leaving consumers questioning every purchase and food decision. Anti-agriculture organizations lean on unproven statements and “potential dangers” to invoke fear into our food system.
But food shouldn’t be a scary proposition. As a member of the agriculture community, I hate seeing people terrorized by the idea of modern farming practices, reading that a single fast food cheeseburger might immediately result in a trip to the emergency room or hearing that eating modified corn will lead to cancers and unknown illnesses. The idea that food is grown to harm people or that today’s practices and crops are harming our society goes against everything farmers and ranchers stand for.
I believe agriculture is great and so too are the people who make our food affordable, plentiful and delicious. According to the United States Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service, agriculture and agriculture-related industries contributed just under $800 billion to the U.S. GDP in 2013, which accounts for almost 5 percent of all economic output. The contribution is actually larger when you take into account all of the industries that rely on raw commodities, i.e. food, textiles, leather products etc.
Here in Kansas, agriculture is the main economic driver, bringing more than $63 billion to the state economy and serving as the lifeblood of many rural towns across the state.
Farming and ranching is older than our state – and nation – and it has survived, and thrived, in part because of it’s continued ability to adapt to changing consumer needs and demands. The industry has utilized new technology to improve plant tolerance to adverse conditions, such as heat and drought, and to create more consumer-friendly products, such as seedless watermelon or vitamin-enriched rice for developing nations.
As a mother and wife, I am the primary food decision maker in my family and well aware of the daily attempts by anti-agriculture organizations to use fear mongering and distorted truths to create a culture of terror for myself and all grocery shoppers.
My husband and farmers and ranchers across this great country work hard to raise food to be enjoyed and embraced, not feared and misunderstood. The idea that farmers and ranchers work 365 days a year to produce food that is harmful or raise animals in conditions detrimental to their health and wellbeing is down right untrue and should be considered as off-base as the idea of Kayne West running for president.
Don’t let fear drive your food decisions. It’s all too delicious, too enjoyable and too wonderful not to savor and enjoy. Farmers and ranchers across the country are ready and willing to show you their farm, answer your questions and lift the veil of fear so that you can walk the grocery store aisles and navigate the restaurant menu without fear of the unknown.
I believe America is already great and so too is the agriculture industry, just must continue working to make both even better.