PUTTING A FACE ON AG TECH
The modern grower is facing more challenges today than the previous generation could even imagine. Smart weeds, advanced seed genetics, social pressure, increasing regulation, advancing equipment, usage restrictions, etc. On top of all that, everyone expect farmers to produce more food, more affordably, but use fewer chemicals, fertilizer, water and land. What the heck!? How did we get here?
One-hundred-fifty years ago, it is estimated that the majority of the U.S. workforce (about 60 percent, according to the Visual Capitalist) was involved in the agriculture industry.
Think of that for a minute. It was more common to work on or around a farm or ranch than anything else. Today, it is the exact opposite. The estimates today are that less than three percent of the workforce is involved in agriculture. In less than two generations, North America has, by and large, moved off the farm to do something else. This has been made possible by enormous improvements in mechanization and the general use of technology leading to an explosion of productivity gains.
Over the same 150 years, the world population has gone from around 1.3 billion people to now almost 8 billion people. Those people want to eat! One would think they would be highly supportive of the ag industry since we're the ones feeding them. Unfortunately, it seems like people have only gotten more critical of how their food is produced. It's an unfortunate evolution of modernization and productivity.
As the populace has moved off the farm and into the cities, the connection to the farm has been lost and thus people have become clueless about how food is produced. So, how do growers and others in the ag industry PROVE to society that we're doing a good job and producing a good product?
- Help tell the story of farming
- Show the results
Help Tell The Story of Farming
Some popular ag social influencers are Millennial Farmer, Welker Farms, Larson Farms, Fast Ag Montana, Mike Mitchell, Brians Farming Videos, Cole the Cornstar and This Farm Wife – Meredith Bernard. What's unique about these channels is that they're generally family-friendly and wholesome content. It's real people doing real work. It helps put a face on agriculture. Once you can put a face on something, it's much harder to attack. No, we don't need everyone to get a selfie stick and start vlogging their daily lives. But, we can support those who do and try to help share the story.
The Proof is in the Results
Today, we're blessed by a host of technologies to solve problems. While there is a LOT of talk about how to use farm data to make better agronomic decisions to boost yields or reduce inputs, there is a more important use of that information. If the general populace had any idea how much technology is used to ensure farmers were not abusing land and only giving a plant what it needs, they would be shocked. There are reasons farmers apply a certain amount of fertilizer or use a certain chemical, but the public really has no idea. So, farmers need to prove it. This chart shows the proof in productivity for one. Are there other ways to improve the job farmers are doing? Absolutely! There is not a farmer or machine operator who doesn't want to do a better job. The pace at which technology is brought to market will continue to increase as we see better results.