A tweet the other day caught my attention: "This is in my daughter's social studies book. City kids don't have a chance if schools can't get it right."
It was accompanied with a picture of a paragraph written in this farmer's daughter's 4th Grade Harcourt Social Studies book that said:
"Most farms in the Plains regions are now owned by large companies. These farms are like huge factories. Machines do much of the work on these large farms."
I was shocked and stunned. This is what kids are learning in school about agriculture from an approved text book publishing company? I don't know that 4th graders receive a lot of information on agriculture in school but shouldn't the little information they are learning be correct?
I wanted to know what Indiana kids were learning about our state in agriculture. I called a couple of my friends who are teachers and was able to acquire a copy of Harcourt Social Studies, Indiana History. While not as offensive and blatantly incorrect as The Plains copy of this book, I was taken aback by how little a role agriculture played in the book and how the authors chose to present what few things the book did touch on.
The part that bothered me the most in the Indiana version was also the longest portion mentioned about agriculture. Here's a passage:
Farmers with small family farms in Indiana were finding it hard to make money. Many farmers sold their farms. Farming companies bought their land and built large farms. The companies could afford new and updated farming equipment.
The new equipment helped farmers in Indiana raise more crops using fewer workers. Important Indiana farm products included corn, soybeans, wheat, hogs, and cattle.
Indiana is nationally ranked in agricultural production, we are within the top five states in the nation in the production of corn, soybeans, popcorn, peppermint, spearmint, layer chickens, eggs, ducks, tomatoes and both regular and fat free ice cream. We have 14.7 million acres of production ground. These facts weren't included anywhere in the book!
While there are many aspects just as important as agriculture to Indiana Social Studies, shouldn't the small amount these kids are learning be correct? It may be all the education on agriculture they will ever receive.
I realize I am preaching to the choir but my challenge to you in the coming year is to become more involved in promoting an industry that you're part of, that you love, that is important to every single individual in the world.
Don't just spread the word, spread the facts – agriculture is important.