Former County Agent in Seminole County, Rome Ethredge, wrote this article in Growing America. You can see it at that link, but I posted it below too. Rome was the agent I trained with, and the best person to ever know. I love the way he wrote this article as each generation is further removed from the farm, many, many people are truly unaware of the most basic things of agriculture. Our job needs to be known…
I was with my fellow Deacons cooking breakfast for our Easter Sunrise Service crowd and someone said we wouldn’t be quite through cooking when the worshippers come in the door. I said “That’s good then they’ll see us working and know we didn’t just bring the food in from elsewhere.”
I was reminded of times at my mother-in-law’s when she would be cleaning up in the kitchen and making a lot of racket banging the pots and pans while we had… “retired to the den”. We claimed she was doing it on purpose to let us know how hard she was working.
We don’t want folks to think we have it easy and we like to be appreciated but people often think agricultural production is a piece of cake.
I don’t think we do a good enough job in getting out the word about how hard farmers, and all involved, work to get food and fiber to consumers. Ag Awareness is a big deal and we need to toot our own horn sometimes. Part of the problem is that farmers are usually fairly humble people who work very hard and don’t have or take the time to do this.
Another part of the problem is ignorance on the part of folks not involved in agriculture. I don’t mean it in a bad way, I’m ignorant about many things, I just don’t know about them. I was recently ignorant of the fact that jean shorts and cargo pants are no longer in fashion, until my daughter enlightened me.
Here’s a few questions I’ve heard from folks that just don’t know:
“I’ve got a corn field on my road and the farmer is just letting the corn die, why? They don’t realize we let it mature in the field and let the drying process begin so that the corn can be stored and processed.
“Why are they watering so much?” If you would look at a farmer’s electricity or diesel bill you would know that they don’t water unless its needed by the crop, it’s too expensive otherwise. Sometimes they will put extra water if applying needed fertilizer or fungicides through the irrigation system.
“Don’t peanuts grow on trees, like other nuts?” It’s an amazing process God has for the peanut’s lifecycle. They bloom aboveground then peg down into the soil, (you could say dirt but my ABAC soil science professor, Mr. Sibbett, said dirt is what’s under your fingernails, there’s soil in the field), and grow the pod there with 2 to 3 kernels inside. Recently, I met a gentleman from Hershey, Pennsylvania, a member of the Reese family. He remembered trucks delivering shelled peanuts in 100-pound bags for the tasty treat. I told him they’re now mostly delivered in 2200-pound bags. He then asked if we use machinery in growing them. I said yes, we usually dig them 6 rows at a time. He said, “You mean they grow underground?”
So, let’s remember to dispel the darkness of misunderstanding about the farm when and where we can, especially when folks are being negative. It’s been said, “Don’t complain about farmers with your mouth full”, and my friend Eddie McGriff used to end his county agent radio program with, “Remember that If you ate today then you’ve got God and a farmer to thank.”