In this week’s edition of the Fillmore County Journal, you will notice an advertisement that we hope will become a long-term feature dedicated to recognizing our area farm families.
Our local farm families have such an impact on our lives, and a good majority of the population has become disconnected from the farm. It’s not our fault. I didn’t grow up on a farm and I don’t live on a farm, so I feel disconnected, as well. About half of our newspaper staff either lives on a farm or works on a farm, so I get a glimpse of farm life based on conversations we have in the office.
There have been many initiatives to promote farm-to-table, putting a spotlight on where your food comes from.
But what about the people behind the food we consume?
Less than 2% of our U.S. population works in the farm industry, yet they produce the majority of what we consume in America.
According to American Farm Bureau Federation, “One U.S. farm feeds 165 people annually in the U.S. and abroad. The global population is expected to increase to 9.7 billion by 2050, which means the world’s farmers will have to grow about 70% more food than what is now produced. And, “98% of U.S. farms are operated by families – individuals, family partnerships or family corporations.”
What has happened in our farm economy in recent decades, and specifically recent years, has really threatened the family farm.
“Farmers and ranchers receive only 15 cents out of every dollar spent on food at home and away from home. The rest goes for costs beyond the farm gate: wages and materials for production, processing, marketing, transportation and distribution. In 1980, farmers and ranchers received 31 cents,” according to the American Farm Bureau Federation.
So, what happens when our farm economy struggles?
It impacts everyone in our small towns whether we realize it or not. A farm in the Chatfield area recently sold off everything, and the farmer shared his story about how 83 vendors (majority local) would be affected by end of his operations. From farm to Main Street, there is a ripple effect.
Just look in every direction when you travel these roads. We are surrounded by farmland. In Fillmore County, farming is the engine that drives the train. Actually, while we have some big cities in Minnesota, such as Minneapolis, St. Paul, Mankato, St. Cloud, Rochester, and Duluth, the majority of the 87 counties in this state are referred to as “Greater Minnesota.” Minnesota is more rural than metro. Our entire state is heavily dependent on farming.
As a newspaper publisher, knowing there is a disconnect between farming and city folk, I feel we need to work even harder — now more than ever — to promote the family farm.
And, this is why we are striving to recognize our local farmers. We just need your help along the way.
If you know of a farm family who you feel should be recognized, please let us know. You can e-mail me at email@example.com or call our office at (507) 765-2151.