Tag Archives: Kansas Farm Bureau

If you’re like my family, you don’t have much reason or opportunity to have a regular discussion with the people responsible for growing and raising our food. We order our beef from a local meat locker every year and supplement it with occasional trips to a local butcher. Outside of that, all of our food comes from the grocery store.

I recently asked my wife, “When was the last time you talked to a farmer or rancher?” She couldn’t remember the last conversation she had with a farmer. Prior to joining Kansas Farm Bureau, I’d have a similar struggle.

My background is like my wife’s. We are both removed from farm families in rural Kansas, though we grew up on opposite ends of the state. If the two of us have trouble connecting with the people growing our food, I can only imagine the struggles others face.

While our communication might be lacking, one thing that isn’t is our access to food. I can’t think of the last time I left a grocery store without an item I wanted. In fact, I usually buy more than I need – as my waistline indicates.

I’ve heard the repeated pleas for farmers and ranchers to tell their stories. It’s good advice, but any conversation requires at least two participants. While farmers weren’t telling their stories, consumers didn’t exactly burn up the gravel roads to go knocking on farmhouse doors, either.

“When I was a kid in the ’70s and ‘80s no one was talking about telling our story to the consumer,” Greenwood County rancher Matt Perrier said. “We figured they didn’t care, or they knew it already. I think we were sorely mistaken.”

The fifth-generation stockman said as fewer and fewer people grew and raised food, it left a void between farmers and shoppers. Lacking the direct knowledge, consumers glommed onto any morsel of information they could.

“I think that it’s kind of the perfect storm between one, the small percentage of people who actually raise our food and consequently the small percentage of people who know any of us, coupled with this whole foodie movement … has made people passionate about food, and the story behind the food,” Perrier said. “These people on TV, their recipes aren’t any better than the Methodist Church ladies’ cookbook, but they tell a story to go along with it.”

Fifty or 100 years ago, people could have just asked grandma where their food came from, Perrier said. Because there are fewer farmers around, people have instead turned to social media.

“Consequently, the people who do want to tell a story about animal agriculture or agriculture in general, they are probably the loudest storytellers of all,” Perrier said. “Quite often that’s not a story that’s very representative of most of our farms and ranches in America.”
It’s a compelling one. Through a combination of technology and market efficiency, all consumers see is what appears to be an endless supply of food.

“When you don’t have to face the option of, ‘Do we have something to eat or don’t we?’ we get pretty picky,” Perrier said.

Picky or not, today’s farmers and ranchers are doing a better job of reaching consumers, Perrier said.

“We can tell it very well,” he said. “We just have to do it.”

This week is Kansas Farm Bureau’s Centennial Tour. This event will celebrate Kansas agriculture across the state and highlight its diversity and ingenuity. There will be lots of good food, celebration and, most importantly, great fellowship. Kansas Farm Bureau has a lot to celebrate, and it will be a party from one end of this great state to the other.

While we should reflect on our accomplishments and what we have achieved over the last 100 years, this is also the time to look toward the next 100. What will this organization look like in 2119? Who will our members be? What will agriculture look like, and how will we grow our food in the next century? All are questions we should ask but also all are questions I guarantee we do not have the answers to.

In the next couple of months, we will get a report from our Strategic Planning Committee, which was convened to take a stab at what KFB will look like in the future. Committee members represent a cross section of Kansas Farm Bureau and the diversity of agriculture it represents.

In true grassroots, Farm Bureau style, each individual Farm Bureau member had the opportunity to provide input about the future of our organization and what it should look like. Everything was scrutinized, and every path was explored. No rocks were left unturned. What are we doing right and what could be improved? The committee worked tirelessly, and many hours, much energy and thoughtful contemplation went into the final document.

I cannot wait to see this road map we will be given to start our journey into the next 100 years. More importantly, I am so proud to be part of an organization that has the foresight to plan while celebrating the past. That kind of forward thinking is what has made Farm Bureau the voice of agriculture and a place for everyone involved in the production of food and fiber.

I am sure the next 100 years will bring even more innovation to our industry. I am sure we cannot even begin to imagine what changes will happen. I am also equally sure that Kansas Farm Bureau will be able to adapt, change and continue to be a resource for Kansas farmers and ranchers.

So, this week, lets renew old friendships, celebrate our accomplishments and enjoy the journey of the past 100 years. While we are doing that, we will be looking at the road into the future knowing Kansas Farm Bureau will continue to lead the way and continue to be the most inclusive, general farm organization in Kansas with a place for all producers. Here is to 100 years of accomplishments and to the next 100 years of growth and success.