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WINTER 2011

Point of View by Ashley Indrieri

In a country struggling with the state of our public school system, it seems prudent to write about the topic of education. For decades, farmers and ranchers have sought to educate the public about where there food comes from and what it takes to make it to Americans’ kitchen tables. Still today if you ask most people where their food comes from they would probably say the grocery store. Giving little or no thought to the faces that helped grow that food.

Our culture is constantly bombarded with negative images of ranchers and “corporate farming”. On a recent river tour with an environmental group, many of the comments I fear as an advocate for agriculture were mentioned on a short ride across the dry dusty fields on a hot July day. First, was the view of small egg farms in Northern California and I hear from the front seat of the car, “those chickens never see the light of day”. At first, I just ignored the comment, but then when we turned down a road near a cattle ranch and another comment rang out, “it’s abuse to feed those cows corn”. Then, FWA summer intern could no longer hold her composure, especially since she was raised on a cattle ranch. She piped up and explained the entire process of ranching and why cows are fed grain versus corn. I must say the car ride got real quiet after that.

While this story is just a recent illustration of the lack of understanding about farming and ranching, it is all too common. Those in the agricultural industry have launched an effort to dispel the myths about California farmers and ranchers. Efforts such as the “Know a California Farmer” initiative are a step in the right direction.

The FWA “Farmers Feed America” campaign has been another effort to educate the public and evoke thought to the millions of people that drive our highways. We will continue our efforts to educate the public about where our food and fiber comes from and perhaps you will all do the same. ■

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