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It is the best of times and the worst of times...for agriculture.
It's also a public relations and marketing problem that needs to be solved quickly.
Here in the Middle of the Midwest we're seeing farmers enjoying some great times. Crop prices are pushing upward due to a host of factors including ethanol, exports and genetics.
That's one side of the story.
The other is that food prices have been climbing, there is a shortage of food in some parts of the country and other nations are pointing the finger at US agriculture as commodities have inflated by up to 40% in just months... Once the "breadbasket of the world" we're now seen as greedy farmers.
And there are other issues:
The 2008 Farm Bill is stalled, the price of fuel continues to increase, the weather is becoming a factor and people need a scapegoat.
Americans are further removed from agriculture than at any other time in our history. There is a general lack of understanding where food comes from and where it goes...even here in Iowa. A couple of generations ago most of us had family members on the farm. Today, as the number of farmers shrink the scales tip toward urban thinking and acceptance. That spells trouble for farming especially when the votes on critical rural issues need to be counted.
There is a bright spot. Micro-Farms have begun to sprout up all over the country. These are not the mega-farms profiled in the ag magazines but small farms and acreages that have embraced sustainable agriculture, new markets and local demands for high quality products.
And, unlike "traditional agriculture" these small farms and acreages have built a positive public relations image at farmers markets, through inventive media messages and e-commerce.
It's time main stream agriculture followed and no, the Farm Bureau and various commodity groups won't get it done. Each of those is seen as too large, too political.
We'd be interested in your take on this...are we wrong?
Michael P. Libbie - Insight Advertising, Marketing & Communications -