I have been reading some reviews and points made in the new "Food, inc" film that opened this weekend. It is really troubling how little the general population knows about farming and how much misinformation is spread.
From what I can tell the movie really demonizes farming and claims that our food is largely supplied by "Factor Farms" or "Corporate Farms" and agribusiness giants.
I wish someone, anyone who throws around those terms could explain to me what a "Factory Farm" or a "Corporate Farm" is? Especially as it pertains to grain farms. I know literally hundreds of farmers-and have never met a single one who farms for a company other than brothers, cousins, etc. who have incorporated on paper for tax purposes or liability purposes. As I look within 15 miles of my farm in any direction they are farmed by Craig, Jeff, Steve, Gary, John, Bob, Bill, Eric, Matt, Allen, Mike. Not a single one is a corporate employee or employee of any factory.
According to the US Department of Agriculture 98% of farms in the US are family farms. I am guessing the 2% are probably the large southern Chicken or northern Hog farms owned by Tyson, Pilgrims pride, etc.
The thing that is really most disturbing is that most people (and legislators) are so far removed from the farm there are many more sources spreading misinformation than those spreading a realistic picture of agriculture. I did run across a great website this week at: http://www.thehandthatfeedsus.com I would encourage everyone to check it out.
Here is a link within that which is a perfect example: http://www.thehandthatfeedsus.org/farmers_profile_barry_evans.cfm This giant agribusiness is made up of Barry, his wife, three kids, and 73-year-old father.
The Illinois, Wisconsin, Indiana, Iowa, and Ohio Farm Bureaus, an organization created, funded, and managed by family farms all across the country has spoken out against Food Inc. and called out it's playing fast and loose with the facts but I doubt that 10% of the people who would see this obviously biased film will ever get to hear another perspective.
Some would say so what, let them believe what they want. But the same groups that would spread this misinformation have now begun lobbying efforts that if successful will greatly hinder the ability of the family farm to produce the affordable safe product that they have so successfully done for the last 100 years. The very group they claim to be trying to protect. The truth is they have no interest in helping family farms-unless you are farming the way they want you to farm-basically taking farming back to the way it was done a half century ago.
What these groups are greatly lacking is a basic understanding of not only the way our food is produced but how it MUST be produced if we are to feed everyone in the world-not just their backyard. This will become even more critical as the worlds population continues to grow and the amount of farmland continues to shrink.
More on this next week.