Tag Archives: food

The Beginning of a Slippery Slope: Vermont Will Become the First U.S. State to Require the Labeling of GMO Foods.

Well, folks. It’s all downhill from here. After proposed legislations upon proposed legislations, Vermont has become the first state to pass a bill that will require all genetically-modified (GMO) foods to be labeled accordingly. Vermont Governor Pat Shumlin signed the bill last week, and it will become effective July 1, 2016. Why is this a terrible idea? Because there is a lack of credible scientific evidence suggesting that GMOs are unsafe. The U.S. Department of Agriculture, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the American Medical Association, the National Academy of Sciences and the World Health Organization all have determined that GMO foods are not unsafe for human consumption. In fact, there is NOT even one mainstream scientifically-accurate study showing that GMOs are unsafe. So then why we would we even put a label on them? Because there is a ridiculous, scientifically-inaccurate conspiracy going around that GMO foods are harmful. There’s also a plethora of junk research studies out there suggesting that GMOs are unsafe, and a few select bloggers, journalists and anti-GMO activists have taken those scientifically-inaccurate studies and ran with them. Consumers often say that they want GMO foods to be labeled so that they have the right to choose what they purchase and put into their bodies. They want to make sure that they are eating the healthiest foods possible.

However, slapping on a label that says “GMO” won’t help them become any healthier. GMO labels will simply CONFUSE consumers. They will begin to think that GMO foods are unsafe and won’t want to buy them. Imagine walking into a grocery store and having the option of two different yogurts, one that says “GMO” and one that says “GMO-free.” My bet is that about 95% of consumers are going to grab the yogurt that says “GMO-free.” And they will be paying more. FOR NO REASON AT ALL. The GMO-free product will consist of the exact same nutrition as the non-GMO product. 

Passing this bill in Vermont is the start of a very slippery slope. The passing of this bill will change how consumers view not only GMO foods, but also agriculture as a whole. The passing of this bill may inevitably change how we feed America. And the passing of this bill may change how we feed the world. It makes my heart hurt. New York State looks like it may jump on the GMO-labeling bandwagon soon, as it has recently advanced its own version, and similar bills have also been proposed in states like Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Maine, Florida and Connecticut. What will the result of all this nonsense be? Food prices everywhere will increase and consumers will end up paying higher prices for foods that are of the same nutritional value as their GMO counterparts. Families on budgets will be ripped of their money, even though little Charlie will be eating the same foods as before.

I also can’t even begin to imagine how messy things would be if every state develops its own individual policy regarding the labeling of GMOs! That 50-state framework would be a disaster because consumers wouldn’t know what the heck to believe.

So why are we confusing America’s families? It’s time to put a stop to this. We need a federal standard to prevent all of this unnecessary GMO-labeling nonsense, before it is too late. Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-KS) and G.K. Butterfield (D-NC) recently introduced a bill, the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act of 2014” that would create a federal standard for the voluntary labeling of GMO foods. It would also give the FDA the sole authority to require mandatory labeling if GMO products are ever found to be unsafe or materially different than non-GMO foods. The bill would protect consumers and eliminate confusion so that farmers can continue to feed us in a safe, economical and efficient manner. Pompeo and Butterfield, you rock.

And what about that notion that GMOs are brand new to society and we can’t possibly have enough information suggesting that they are safe? THIS IS FALSE.

GMOs are grown from seeds whose genes have been altered just enough to best withstand our changing society’s needs. We have been doing this since the dawn of time. Ever heard of Gregor Mendel? He was a famous geneticist born in 1822, who I’m sure you learned about in high school biology class. Mendel used a Punnett Square to create new types of pea plants that contained desirable traits. THIS WAS IN THE YEAR 1822. We have been genetically-modifying our foods since at least the 1800’s. The only thing that is different now is that we have years of science and technology to help us do it better. Currently, about 80% of the foods in the United States are produced from genetic engineering. No GMOs = No food. Simple as that.

For a more thorough background on the importance of GMOs to our environment, health and global food security, check out the post that I wrote a few months back: https://mollsymoo.wordpress.com/2013/12/05/i-eat-gmos/

But in short, here are why GMOs are awesome:

1.) We can grow foods that are resistant to weeds and bugs and can withstand awful weather conditions like droughts. Farmers can produce higher yields of safer, quality foods this way.

2.) We can produce foods that are of higher nutritional value like Golden Rice, a crop that is high in Vitamin A and helps children with Vitamin A deficiencies so that they can see.

3.) We can produce foods that stay fresher longer. Otherwise, those fruits you are eating from Florida may be brown by the time they get to your table.

The U.S. has a responsibility to help feed the world. We have the tools in our hands. Now let’s STOP being silly, STOP listening to the activists, the junk studies, and the uninformed bloggers and journalists. Let’s START becoming informed about where out food comes from. And let’s START accepting the fact that GMOs are safe and beneficial to our world’s food supply.

For more information on GMOs and to review scientific literature, check out this informative article by Jon Entine, head of the Genetic Literacy Project and senior fellow at the Center for Risk & Health Communication and STATS (Statistical Assessment Service) at George Mason University: http://www.forbes.com/sites/jonentine/2013/10/14/2000-reasons-why-gmos-are-safe-to-eat-and-environmentally-sustainable/

MollsyMoo

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Farmland: Finally a Positive Movie about the Food Industry

Well, it’s about time the entertainment industry made a movie that presents the honest facts about where our food comes from! I am sick and tired of hearing about biased, negative productions like Food Inc. and Fed Up. Those movies do not provide us with an accurate representation of our food system, and it is not fair to leave consumers thinking that our food is being produced in inhumane manners, by people who do not care about us. Farmers DO care about us. They care about us more than anyone I know. It takes a ridiculously special person to be a farmer! And Farmland shows this. Farmland shows us REAL farming. It’s not a bunch of biased misconceptions that you see on television or read about in the news.

A documentary film created by Academy Award-winning filmmaker James Moll, Farmland presents the TRUTHS about farming. The good, the bad and even the ugly. Moll follows the lives of six young farmers and ranchers involved in diverse areas of agriculture, all under the age of 30.

Here are the featured farmers’ biographies, as from the Farmland website (www.farmlandfilm.com):

  • Leighton Cooley- A fourth generation poultry farmer, operates four farms in Georgia with his father. In addition to chickens, he also has a cow-calf operation and grows hay. Leighton and his wife have two sons.
  • Brad Bellah- A sixth generation cattle rancher, runs beef and cattle operations in Texas and Colorado, including a natural beef herd. The 26-year old husband and father of a twin son and daughter earned a bachelor’s degree in agricultural communications from Texas Tech University. 
  • David Loberg- A fifth generation corn and soybean farmer in Nebraska, runs the family farm with his mother. The farm also custom feeds 500 head of cows for a local dairy operation and runs and irrigation business. The 25-year old and his wife have an infant son.
  • Sutton Morgan- A fourth generation farmer from California, grows, packs and sells onions and potatoes, and also grows melons, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower,  lettuces, chard, kale and alfalfa. Sutton holds a degree in business economics from the University of California, Santa Barbara.
  • Margaret Schlass- A CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) vegetable farmers based in Pennsylvania, farms on 18 acres with her two farms. During her senior year at the University of Delaware, Margaret studied abroad in peru, worked the fields harvesting corn and yucca, which introduced her to farming.
  • Ryan Veldhuizen- A fourth generation farmer, is taking over the operation of his family’s hog farm in Minnesota with his brother and sister. The farm grows hogs, corn and soybeans, which they use for feed.

The story of the film is told entirely by the individual farmers and their families. There isn’t a narrator for even a single line of the film. I am grateful that I had the opportunity to attend the debut private screening of Farmland last March at the Ronald Reagan Ampitheater in Washington, D.C. I had been looking forward to seeing this movie for a good year, so naturally I was bouncing off the walls the entire time when I was invited to tag along with my coworkers. Some pretty awesome leaders in the agricultural community were present including U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Kysta Harden, U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance CEO Randy Krotz and American Farm Bureau Federation President Bob Stallman.

Vilsack kicked off the premier by sharing some celebratory words about the state of the United States food industry. He mentioned that food is less expensive in the United States than it is anywhere else in the world. That is really special! Americans everywhere are able to accomplish their dreams because farmers are out in the fields, working hard, each and every day to produce our food for us.

I can tell you firsthand that this movie is different than other farming movies you may have seen in the past. It is a factual, honest and heartwarming depiction of what farming is all about. It will make you laugh. And it will make you cry… In fact, I balled like a baby at least four times.

It shows their struggles- whether that be poor weather conditions, broken equipment, people that don’t believe in them, negative attention from consumers and the media, or deaths in the family. It also shows how much farming means to each and every one of them. Farmers are farmers because they love what they do. They love their land, they love their animals and they love supporting their country. Farmers are people just like us. They have families, and sometimes they even “shop at J. Crew” and “drink too many Coors lights,” according to Bellah. In fact, 97% of farmers are family farmers. However, when many people visualize farming, they think that there’s traditional farming with a few cows running around outside in the grass or they think of “factory farming,” but they don’t think of anything in between. Yes, farming does look very different than it did in the 1950’s. The number of farms is decreasing and the size of farms is increasing. But there are many legitimate reasons for this, as you will see in the film. Farms are more sustainable and efficient, and food is being sold at a more affordable rate than it was years ago. Farmers have tools- technologies developed by science- to help them provide for our country. Watch this film and you will begin to understand.

As a girl who grew up surrounded by farmers in Wisconsin, I learned firsthand where my food comes from. But I realize that not everyone has easy access to farms like I did. I was blessed. And I am now blessed enough to be pursuing a career within agriculture, a field that I believe is the most loving, supportive and rewarding, and also instills the strongest work ethic among those involved. Did you know that today’s society is an average of three generations removed from the farm? That means that one in three people probably hasn’t even stepped foot on a farm. They haven’t petted a cow. They haven’t smelled the fresh cut hay. They haven’t used a pitch fork. A few days ago, a woman told me that she grew up in New York City and didn’t realize that “miles of just corn fields” existed until she ventured on out to the Midwest for a summer school program. For those growing up on farms, the average number of young people going back to their farms is decreasing. And the recent U.S. Census results indicate that the average age of a farmer is 58 years, and this number is rising. What is going to happen to the future of our food industry? Who is going to feed us? We need more young people to get involved in agriculture.

Most people acquire the knowledge that they have about agriculture from the media, and unfortunately the media often inaccurately presents the industry in an extremely negative light. As a result, there is a tremendous disconnect between the farming community and consumers. Yet, consumers have a strong desire to know where their food comes from and how it is produced. And the best way to help people understand where their food actually comes from is by showing them! It has never been more important than it is now for farmers to share their story by letting the public into their lives and showing them what they do every single day to produce safe, abundant and affordable food for our families. Farmland is a great way for farmers to spark this conversation with consumers. As Veldhuizen says in the film, “We aren’t hiding anything. But want do you want to know?” Farmers want you to be engaged!

A few of the featured young farmers attended the D.C. film premier, and afterwards they participated in a panel to discuss the movie with the audience. It was really wonderful seeing the farmers in person and hearing them talk about their experience with the creation of the film, and more importantly their everyday lives on the farm. When asked why he agreed to be filmed for the movie, Cooley declared that he grew up on a farm and established a love for agriculture. Farming captivated him and he has always been very passionate about it. He mentioned that farms are under attack, and participating in the film was an opportunity for him to get rid of misconceptions about farming. He wanted to ensure Americans that their food is safe. Bellah had a great answer as well. He stated that he did an internship in Washington, D.C. during college, and while he was there he realized that many people are clueless about agriculture and have no idea where their food comes from. Everyone had questions for him and he was anxious to answer them. This film is Bellah’s opportunity to link consumers to producers. (Also, I would just like to point out that Bellah wore fabulous cowboy boots to the movie premier. Yes, I noticed them).

Moll learned a thing or two about farming as well. “For everything I learned, there are ten more things I could learn. I hope that it prompts dialogue, discussions and questions” about the food industry. When asked about how filming this movie affected his food-buying decisions, Moll replied that he grew up in Los Angeles and purchased or avoided foods based on what he saw on Facebook. He has much stronger confidence in where his food comes from now.

Farmland will be released in public theaters across the country on May 1st. That’s just a few days from now, folks. Check out http://www.farmlandfilm.com for more details and to watch the trailer! I highly recommend that each and every person who cares about where their food comes from watches this movie.

Or as Cooley said at the D.C. screening: “If you eat, then this movie is for you.”

Farmland is about farmers coming together, no matter what type of farm they operate, and helping consumers to gain confidence about where their food comes from.

A plus film, James Moll. A plus.

-MollsyMoo

Meeting U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack at the Washington, D.C. screening of Farmland. Photo by John Harrington Photography.

Meeting U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack at the Washington, D.C. screening of Farmland. Photo by John Harrington Photography.

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Chipotle: The Company with a False Sense of Integrity

INTEGRITY (Noun): “Firm adherence to a code of especially moral or artistic values” (Merriam-Webster). Chipotle Mexican Grill, a burgeoning chain restaurant founded in 1993 with 1500+ franchises across the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, France and Germany with a net income of $278 million, boasts their motto as “Food with Integrity.” To the average person, Chipotle may seem like it is an innovative, successful company that cares about their customers and more importantly, farmers and animals. Heck, I thought so too for a while. They are indeed, innovative. And they are indeed, successful. But I argue that they do not care about farmers and animals in the way that they want consumers to believe. Chipotle first and foremost cares about increasing their sales and they will do whatever it takes to do so, even if it means through deceiving their very own customers. I am going to share with you why I believe that Chipotle has a false sense of integrity, based on my current graduate school studies and knowledge of strategic communication and the marketing campaign process.

I used to like Chipotle, I really did. Just looking at their burritos made me salivate. But what’s more important to me than a measly burrito, is understanding the message that an organization or company uses to market their brand- their true motives, their true missions and their true values. Are the messages that they portray to the public consistent with their internal beliefs OR do they disguise their ulterior motives with deceptive imagery to give the public what they want to hear, as a tool for ultimately increasing sales? I have morals. I do NOT want to feel cheated or deceived, especially for some sad marketing excuse.

A few years ago, Chipotle began an anti-conventional farming campaign. They released two creative and emotional, yet scientifically-inaccurate YouTube videos entitled “Back to the Start” and “Scarecrow.” These videos contain powerful imagery of cartoon animals being raised in contrasting environments. I am not going to link to the videos or talk too much about them because I am going to focus more on their current Hulu video series, “Farmed and Dangerous.” Plus I see no need to increase Chipotle’s viewership.

But basically, Chipotle is not stupid. They are aware that the general public is generations-removed from farming and that many people lack an accurate understanding of what happens day-to-day on farms. Farming does not look the way that it used to many years ago; it is more efficient, sustainable, regulated and safer than it was when our grandparents and great-grandparents were farming. The land is different today. The climate is different today. We have better technology today including milking machines, solar panels, and manure management and nutrition systems. However, the public often is not able to understand this from first-hand experiences, so they are more susceptible to being influenced by the media. The media plays a huge role in telling the public what to think about. This is called agenda-setting. Throughout the past few years, the media has actively instilled in our minds that we should be wondering about where our food comes from (and we should care about where our food comes from…I wouldn’t have created this entire blog otherwise!). That gave Chipotle the opportunity to step in and take advantage of us. Chipotle uses political communication methods referred to as framing and scare tactics in their videos. These are actions in which a group or organization creates messages in biased manners to scare their custumers, thus manipulating the end result in their own favor. Chipotle simply uses the public’s lack of knowledge about agriculture to convince viewers that conventional farming is inhumane, unsustainable and unhealthy.

Chipotle recently released the newest aspect of their campaign, the first of a four-episode Hulu series entitled “Farmed and Dangerous.” This first episode is just over 20 minutes long, and it is absolutely, sensationally, horrendous. It focuses on a make-believe animal feed company named “Animoil.” The company creates pellets out of oil, which they then feed to dairy cows and other species. Obviously, that would be a terrible idea and no farmer would ever do that for at least five hundred thousand different reasons. The cows in the video blow up. POOF. And then the Animoil management team ceases to care. Chipotle, is this supposed to be humorous? Do you really think that it’s okay to joke about living creatures blowing up? How is that being a caring company with integrity? Ask America’s dairy farmers how they would feel about their cows blowing up. I don’t think you’ll get too many laughs out of them. The only thing that I find even mildly funny about it is the fact that Chipotle’s sales by members of the agricultural community will be significantly decreasing from this point forward.

Oh, and if you are interested in learning more about Animoil, be sure to check out their website. You can even apply for jobs there! WHAT?! Yes, Chipotle has created a fake website, with fake employees, for their fake company. Stay classy, Chipotle…

Another fun fact of the day: Chipotle claims to support family farms and buy from local sources when they can. That sounds great, right? Well, they are deceiving you. Chipotle is a 1500+ chain restaurant. I would love to be enlightened and learn how tiny farms would be able to produce enough food for Chipotle’s market demand. And here’s the real kicker- did you know that 97% of America’s farms are FAMILY OWNED AND OPERATED? That’s right. Yet, these are the same family farms that Chipotle is knocking down with their campaign. They are attacking the very own farmers that produce their food. This just doesn’t make sense to me. I asked one of my graduate school professors about it, and he explained that Chipotle is employing the “theory of awesome.” They are aware that the general public has certain opinions on conventional agriculture, and since at this point in time television commercials are useless for social media sharing purposes, YouTube and Hulu videos are a way for their message to spread quickly. Their message really isn’t very compelling to the general public, but it IS memorable and most likely costs less than other campaign strategies. And apparently that’s where the “awesome” factor fits in…people watch it and they think “hey, that was kind of an awesome video.” And then Chipotle is stuck in their head, at least for a moment.

But this still doesn’t explain why a company would actively strive to cut down the farmers that produce their food. Honestly, I truly think that the only valid reason is because Chipotle knows that they can increase their sales through deception and influence public mindset to associate positive feelings with their products. It’s marketability. And in this case, it is ridiculously messed up.

I could sit here all day pin-pointing each individual thing that is wrong with Chipotle’s website and missions, but I am not going to do that. Instead, I am going to urge farmers to continue sharing their messages and family stories with consumers. How hard they work every day to produce healthy and safe food for us, while continuously loving their most prized possessions- their animals. And if you are not a farmer, I am going to urge you to check out your local farms and see if you can set up a visit with them so that you can learn more about what farmers do every day for you, even on holidays and weekends. Like I said before, 97% of all farms are family-owned and operated. Farms just look different today for a number of reasons. And we would love to show you those reasons. Most farmers are more than willing to invite people out to their farms to learn what they do. How many of you invite random strangers to your office at work? I don’t (although no one has ever really asked me…should I be offended?) Farmers are, in my opinion, the hardest-working, most intelligent, most caring people on this earth. And I know a lot of doctors, veterinarians, lawyers, researchers, etc. No one compares to farmers in my mind. In the mean time, check out Dairy Farming Today for some great information on how America’s dairy farmers take care of their cows and work hard to produce food for your family.

I used to love Chipotle’s burritos. But do you know what I love even more? America’s farmers. Which is why I simply cannot support Chipotle any longer aka I will be buying my burritos elsewhere or potentially starting my own brand called Molly’s Burritos (I’ll probably stick with the former idea unless someone firmly believes in my business capabilities and would like to invest in me, but I really do not recommend that for your sake). This may sound bizarre to some of you who are reading this because Chipotle is known for being “Food with Integrity.” However, a company that strives to convince its customers that America’s farmers, the very same people who are producing food for the Chipotle brand, are viscous and inhumane, is NOT a company that I will support. Taking advantage of the general public’s mistrust and lack of accurate understanding of the food system is unacceptable and the opposite of what integrity is all about. Instead, Chipotle should team up with their farmers to help share our positive message. Chipotle may have a creative and strategic marketing campaign, but they do NOT have integrity, no matter what they want us to believe. Let’s all take a stand for America’s hard-working farmers and thank them for providing our families with a safe, affordable and abundant food supply. Now THAT is INTEGRITY. So who’s with me?

XO MollsyMoo (Yes, that’s an “S” in there. MollyMoo was already taken, dangnabbit!)

Side note (do I always have a side note?): I am actually so fired up and frustrated about this campaign that I am devoting one of my graduate school semester research projects to studying Chipotle’s campaign strategy and the effects that scare tactics have on customer loyalty after viewing the videos. I propose that customers who are involved with conventional agriculture will have decreased loyalty to Chipotle after viewing the videos, whereas customers removed from conventional agriculture will not be significantly influenced).

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Why EVERY American Should Care About The Farm Bill

First, I would like to apologize for my lack of blogging lately. I recently moved to Washington, D.C. to begin graduate school and I have been very busy finding internships and trying not to get lost on the Metro (I’ve been successful with both, thus far. Cross your fingers on the latter though). I am thrilled to be in a city with so much passion for policy and leadership! I plan to support America’s hard-working farmers while educating the public about agriculture. Which brings me to the point of this blog post- THE FARM BILL.

You have probably heard the phrase “farm bill” mentioned at least a few times throughout your lifetime, most prevalently within these last few months. But do you know what it is, and honestly- do you really care? I’m hoping that this post will provide you with some insight into agriculture and why the farm bill is important for EVERY American, whether he or she be a cattle farmer in South Dakota, an organic-loving vegan living in a NYC high-rise, a cheese-enthusiast (like me), an avid hiker, an individual living in a small town, a university researcher, a hobby gardener, or a low-income single parent needing to provide for his or her children.

So what exactly is this infamous “farm bill?” The “Agriculture, Reform, Food, and Jobs Act of 2013,” more commonly known as the farm bill, is legislative policy that covers anything and everything related to agriculture and rural America. Yes, pretty much ALL of agriculture and rural America. It includes laws and policies related to supporting our country through nutrition programs, forestry, conservation, crop insurance, environmentalism and sustainability practices, international trade, and research. The bill is passed once every five years or so, and the previous bill expired on September 30th, 2013. This means that farmers have been without any long-term support for the past few months. Congress and support groups are currently working hard to establish an agreement so that the bill can be passed.

With a growing global population expected to reach approximately 9.6 billion by the year 2050 (according to the United Nations Department of Social and Economic Affairs), we will inevitably have a lot of mouths to feed! This means that farmers and ranchers will be increasingly essential to our health and well-being in the years to come. The farm bill ensures that we have the ability to feed our country in a safe, sustainable, and economical manner. Everyone benefits from the farm bill.

The entire farm bill represents about only 2% of federal funding. Although according to the Congressional Budget Office, the farm bill‘s cost will be $969 billion over 10 years, the vast majority of this budget (~80%) will go towards the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (food stamps, or SNAP). This program has been one of the impasses in passing the bill; Democrats wanted to increase the amount of funding for SNAP, while Republicans strived for a decrease. SNAP affects many low-income and struggling families who need to provide their children with healthy, safe meals.

You might be thinking: “But I don’t need to use food stamps. How does the farm bill affect ME?” The rest of the bill, or approximately 20% supports America’s farmers, ranchers, and CONSUMERS through various commodity programs. Let’s break the farm bill down by some of the areas that it covers…

Commodities and Natural Disaster Relief: This provides insurance, or a safety net, for farmers that grow things that we find in our everyday food and clothing staples like sugar, corn, soybeans, wheat, rice, dairy, and cotton. As we all know, the weather is out of our control. When Hurricane Sandy happened, farmers all over the northeast were affected. This past fall, South Dakota cattle farmers were devastated as tens of thousands of cattle were killed because of a severe blizzard and extreme freezing temperatures. As a result, meat prices rose, which in turn affected CONSUMERS when they bought their meat at the grocery store or farmers’ markets. A farm bill would provide farmers and ranchers with insurance and support- whether it be for crops, cattle, etc.- in the cases when Mother Nature decides to be unforgiving. As a Wisconsinite who is literally obsessed with dairy, I personally do not want to see milk prices skyrocket to ~$6-8/gallon (which is what may happen if a farm bill is not passed.) I drink 3-4 gallons of milk per week, and as a graduate student I cannot afford to pay $32 every week for milk! I vote for stable food prices.

Conservation: The farm bill encourages sustainable farming practices that preserve our water, land, air, and soil. I plan to have children. And grandchildren. And I hope to be alive someday to meet my great-grandchildren. And maybe even my great-great grandchildren. I do NOT want them to live in a polluted and destructed world; I want for them to experience the world’s beauty. Therefore, I feel that the conservation portion of the farm is bill is a necessary tool for a healthy future generation.

Rural Development: This aspect of the farm bill provides communities with technological, business, and infrastructure improvements so that we can build our rural communities. As a result, this increases economic growth in rural America and opens up new job opportunities in diverse subject areas. Amen for job-creation.

Research:  A lot more happens at universities than students simply going to class. Research is also performed at many universities, and a portion of this research is focused on improving the agricultural and food industries. Cornell, Penn State, UW-Madison, Ohio State, and Minnesota are just a few of the top research universities that aid in discovering better food safety, conservation, nutrition, pest management, and sustainability methods. With funding for high-quality research, we are able to help our farmers to become more sustainable, efficient, and productive! Producing more, using fewer resources, is key for a sustainable future.

Farm Credit: According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture Economic Research Service, less than 1% of the U.S. population claims to be farmers and the average age of farmers is rising, with about 60% of farmers in the U.S. being 55 years or older. Within the next few decades, most of our current farmers will be either too old to farm productively or have passed away. It is increasingly essential that young people continue to take over their family farms, as well as agricultural education be taught to young people to spark interest in careers within agriculture. Farm credit programs provide direct and guaranteed loans to farmers, which helps beginning farmers and ranchers to begin their new careers in feeding America’s families.

Forestry/Recreation: I am a runner…Therefore, I like to stay hydrated by drinking ridiculous amounts of water throughout the day. I am blessed that we have the fortune of clean drinking water in the U.S. I enjoy running on trails as well as going for long, beautiful hikes. Nothing beats an afternoon walking through a national or state park, with the smells and sounds of wilderness surrounding me. And everyone who knows me also knows that I am an animal-lover. The farm bill will help provide support for all of these things- including ensuring that we have clean drinking water, national parks, wildlife habitats, as well as access to camping, hunting/conservation, and other recreational activities.

Agricultural Trade and Food Aid: Exporting agricultural products creates one million jobs in the U.S.!!!!! The U.S. also participates in humanitarianism efforts in developing countries by providing aid in times of agricultural crises.

Now that I’ve explained some of the major ways that the farm bill improves not only the food industry, but also society as a whole, I hope that you can see how significant it is. The farm bill truly impacts EVERY American, no matter what he or she does for a living, no matter how old he or she is, and no matter what type of foods he or she eats. As the House Committee on Agriculture Chairman, Frank Lucas, said: “The work of the Agriculture Committee, including reauthorizing the Farm Bill, affects every American; ensuring that our farmers and ranchers have the tools they need to produce an abundant and affordable food and fiber supply is as important to our country as national defense.” The world’s population is expanding, and it is our country’s duty to provide our people with a safe and consistent food supply. So next time you go to your local grocery store or farmers market, think about not only the hard work that farmers must engage in to provide us with our food, but also think about the legislative policies that we need in order to enjoy life as we know it for many years to come.

Until next time (when I pray to God that the farm bill will be passed),

-MollsyMoo

Ps- (I can use that terminology on a blog, right?!) If you are a numbers nerd like me, you may find this report by the USDA on the economic importance of passing a farm bill interesting: http://www.usda.gov/wps/portal/usda/usdahome?contentid=2013/11/0223.xml

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