Illinois Farm Families has been closing the gap between urbanites and farmers for several years through its Field Moms program.
Throughout the year, field moms from the Chicagoland area visit multiple farms that show the diversity of Illinois agriculture, including beef, dairy, pork, corn, soybeans and specialty crop production.
Illinois Farm Families is a coalition made up of farmers from Illinois Farm Bureau and Illinois beef, corn, pork, dairy and soybean associations.
They open their farms, having conversations with consumers and answering tough questions about food while also exposing consumers to farm lifestyles and other aspects of the modern day farm.
The field moms take photos and often write personal blogs about their experiences and opinions. I was checking out the Illinois Farm Families latest blog and found one written three years ago by Anita Mann of Naperville, Illinois.
Her observations show the value of this program to educate folks. Those of us who live in rural areas already know these, but it’s most important that others are aware as well.
Man shared 10 “things that I did not know before I began this program and that have made an impression on me.”
1. How passionate the farmers are about what they do. It truly is in their blood. They care deeply about their livestock and being good stewards of the land.
2. How many farms are family farms? Ninety-seven percent of Illinois farms are family farms.
3. The incredible work ethic that these farmers have and that they are passing it on to their children. It is a beautiful thing to see.
4. Most of these farmers do not own all their land; they have to rent some of it.
5. How many variables a farmer is constantly managing: Weeds, pests, temperature, droughts, floods, hail, cost of fuel, soil health, medical care and nutritional needs of livestock, equipment repair, feed cost, seed cost and the list goes on and on.
6. The enormous amount of technology that is now utilized on the farm. iPads, apps, GPS tracking, field mapping, soil analysis, ultrasound, pinpoint fertilizer applications, measuring harvest yields, to name just a few of the ways, it is helping the farmer be more efficient.
7. The variety of careers available in the agriculture industry.
8. The amount of time and research that goes into GMOs, 13 years on average. More than 75 different studies are performed on each new biotech product to ensure it is safe for people, animals and the environment before it comes to market.
9. How confused we, as consumers, can be by the clever labeling and marketing of products in the grocery store.
10. What a wonderful resource Illinois Farm Families website is for consumers to get the answers they need to their questions and concerns about the food they eat and the farming practices used today.