The Powell Research and Extension Center (PREC) held its Field Days last week. Due to University of Wyoming COVID-19 restrictions, the event couldn’t be held last year. It was nice to see it …
The Powell Research and Extension Center (PREC) held its Field Days last week. Due to University of Wyoming COVID-19 restrictions, the event couldn’t be held last year. It was nice to see it return.
The event educates people on the research PREC does and how it benefits producers in the Big Horn Basin. It would be nice to see more such outreach efforts in more areas of the agricultural industry.
If you’ve grown up in Powell, you’d be surprised how little most Americans know about where their food comes from. Only about 2% of the population grows up in farm or ranch families, and most people are about three generations removed from the days when the farming family was the rule rather than the exception.
People are becoming more interested in learning where their food comes from, but when they seek out information, they’re encountering a lot of misleading or outright false claims. Those claims leave the perception that farms are corporate operations profiting from the production of unhealthy foods in factories that are harming the planet.
Among the most insidious myths is that our food is drenched in chemicals. Some organic companies sell their products by promoting this myth. Rather than promoting the benefits of their product, they attempt to persuade people that competing, conventionally grown produce is covered in poisons that people end up eating and getting sick from.
Beef is also getting a bad rap these days, with claims that meat is unhealthy, causes obesity and contributes to climate change. In reality, cows account for only about 2.5% of all greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S.
Actress Natalie Portman teamed up with vegan activists to produce a documentary “Eating Animals.” The movie promotes the myth that meat is produced through “factory farming” in which livestock are crammed together on corporate-run farms, in abhorrent conditions where they’re pumped full of hormones and antibiotics. Many people have never seen a ranching operation, and when they learn about it from documentaries produced by vegans, they tend to be misled.
Most of us here in Wyoming are aware of the care farmers and ranchers give to their lands and animals — their livelihoods, after all, depend on it — but others are getting an earful from unreliable sources.
When people are afraid, politicians swoop in to provide the regulations needed to keep them safe. Needless to say, the regulations that follow are not going to have farmers’ or ranchers’ best interests in mind.
Agricultural outreach efforts to the general public don’t need to be lobbying efforts to impress upon people a certain political point of view. Fun activities such as hay rides, “pick your own” tours, and corn mazes are enough to give people a more accurate perception of what farming and ranching in America really is.
The safety and benefits of America’s farms and ranches speak for themselves. When people see that farms are not operations requiring people to wear hazmat suits, and animals are well cared for, the myths will naturally fade away.