Last weekend, I ventured out and worked on some photography locally. I came across an old farmhouse that was well passed falling in.
This house was literally hanging on by a thread. The window, on the far left side, was still in tact. It's exterior wall created a barrier that was keeping me from seeing into the rest of the house.
My mind eye kept levitating towards that window. What was inside that room? Was it a living room? The farm office? I kept imagining a little boy dropping his toy on the floor and coming to the window to stare out. Eventually that little boy's face was there. Clear as day. I promise I didn't see a ghost. It was just my imagination running wild.
Just like agriculture, many of us are on the outside looking inside. Farmers and ranchers make up 2 percent of the United State's population. [Source] That leaves a lot of people outside.
However, many people are starting to get curious and they are starting to look inside. They're looking in by reading Internet and newspaper articles, looking at pictures and maybe even observing a farm operation from the road. Their imaginations are running wild much like mine did with this window.
What I really wanted to do was get out of the car and venture into this old farm house. I wanted to see inside the room behind the window. You and I both know that me venturing into a dilapidated, falling down house would not be safe and it would not be very smart. I may never know what that room looked like or whether or not a little boy actually grew up in that house.
This is where that old house and agriculture are different. You no longer have to look from the outside in. You can come inside. Many farmers and ranchers are excited to share their story. Agriculture is constantly growing and changing.
Farmers are offering farm visits. They're sharing their lives on social media. They're blogging about agriculture. Magazines and newspapers are interviewing them. Time out of their busy days is being donated for your understanding and education. Volunteers are working with teachers and forming Ag in the Classroom programs for our youth. Children are learning for the first time that milk comes from a cow; not from the back of a grocery store and not from an almond.
If you're going to start coming in, you just have to ask questions with an open mind. What you actually see and hear from farmers and ranchers may not always coincide with what you're reading in the media. Lately, the media does portray agriculture in a positive light. The truth is, farmers and ranchers do not have to sugar coat anything. They are ready to be transparent and share the facts. Agriculture does have a few bad apples. Most of us do not represent those bad apples. In fact, we are trying to get rid of those bad apples too. If my next door neighbor is engaging in bad practices, you betcha he and I are going to have a chit chat.
I invite you to come inside. You will see most farmers and ranchers caring for their animals like their own family no matter if their herd contains 5 or 5,000 head. You will see farmers preserving the land their great grandfathers once tilled and doing all they can to improve environmentally friendly practices. The land and the environment are the foundation of our business, our lives and our legacy.
We are sustaining our future generations.
So please, come on the inside. We invite you. You no longer have to use your imagination.