I had the privilege last month of speaking with a group of 4-H members during one of their summer educational events. One of the sessions that I was responsible for covered how we as agriculture …
I had the privilege last month of speaking with a group of 4-H members during one of their summer educational events. One of the sessions that I was responsible for covered how we as agriculture producers should be interacting with potential customers.
It’s the perfect time to bring up this discussion, because in the next few weeks, they have one of the best opportunities to educate the public about the agriculture industry.
In particular, this would be the Wayne County Fair, which will be haeld from August 4-12 in Honesdale PA.
Many of the individuals who visit the fair experience for the first time a small part of the ag industry. They get to learn where their food directly comes from.
That can mean walking through the dairy barn, learning how cows produce milk and how it is processed into many different delicious and nutritious products.
It can mean visiting one of the other barns to learn more about the livestock industry and how the animals are raised to meet the high-quality standards that produce the excellent meat products we enjoy.
It can also mean walking through the non-livestock exhibits and learning more about vegetable production, food preservation and over 100 other project areas that 4-H and FFA—the Future Farmers of America—have to offer.
It’s a phenomenal opportunity to reach out to so many folks in such a short time.
They can experience firsthand how the industry works, without the false propaganda that can come from entities that have no connection to the industry.
You see, unfortunately more and more of the regulations that are put on farmers’ shoulders today are being driven by folks that have been misinformed about the industry.
This in turn makes it even more difficult to produce the food we need to survive in this country.
A relatively recent example of this was Initiative 16, proposed in 2021 in Colorado. If it had made it onto the 2022 ballot, the law would have rendered certain animal health management techniques as criminal acts.
Thankfully the Supreme Court rejected the ballot addition—the law would have brought the Ag industry to its knees in that state.
But for it to have made it as far as it did in legislation means that we as an industry need to do better to educate the public on how we manage our operations.
There are fewer and fewer individuals who have any experience in agriculture, and this will only continue as technology advances.
I can remember quite vividly many of the interactions that I had while exhibiting my own animals at our local fair. Many folks even had a hard time identifying our goats as goats—they assumed them to be large dogs.
A very common question that our LaMancha dairy goat exhibitors get each year is “Why did you cut your goats’ ears off!?”
You see, the LaMancha breed has very short ears that look as if they have been purposefully cropped—but in fact the goats are born that way, and there are even specific names for how long the ears are when the goats reach maturity. They can either have a gopher ear, which can be a maximum of one inch long or an elf ear, which can be a maximum of two inches long.
Those born with ears outside these parameters are usually not purebred.
It’s little bits of knowledge like this, imparted by our young ag producers, that make the fair a much more enjoyable and educational event for all walks of life to partake in.
It’s also the event where these 4-H and FFA youth gain public speaking skills in addition to many other life skills.
It’s the take of this farmer that if you haven’t had the opportunity to speak to one of these youths while they are working with their animals or putting the finishing touches on their exhibits, you should.
Best of luck to all the hard-working youth in your county’s roundup—the competitions—this summer!
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