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Foundation for Agriculture works to close gap between consumers and ag

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Published on Feb. 29, 2020

Educating today’s consumers is more important than it has ever been. This is why the American Farm Bureau Federation’s (AFBF) Foundation for Agriculture is trying to close the gap between urban and rural areas by providing educational materials that target children to close the gap before it even begins.

            During the Feb. 11 episode of the AFBF’s podcast, Foundation for Agriculture Executive Director Daniel Meloy discusses their efforts to close the urban and rural divide.

Foundation for Agriculture

            The Foundation for Agriculture works to build  awareness, understanding and a positive public perception of agriculture through education, according to their website. 

            The foundation has taken steps to define agricultural literacy and have come up with the description that an agriculturally literate person understands the relationship between agriculture and the environment, food, fiber and energy, animals, lifestyle, the economy and technology.

            “Agricultural literacy can be cultivated in any person, no matter the age or experience,” the website reads. “Helping others understand the important role agriculture plays in their everyday lives is our goal. We work towards this goal by being a credible source for agricultural literacy information. Our materials and programs are designed not only to reflect reliable information, but also to meet today’s standards of learning.” 

            The website continues, “We have continued our efforts to produce outstanding educational materials, create accurate resources and provide opportunities to tell the story. We are working toward making more of our materials free to educators and volunteers.”   

Bridging the gap before it begins

The foundation also builds relationships with educational institutions to introduce ag education tools and resources to children to help bridge the gap between consumers and producers before it happens in the first place. 

“What we do is get those tools into the hands of teachers and classroom volunteers so they can educate kids before they become detached. We need to make sure kids are learning all about where their food comes from before they even hit that detachment mark,” says Meloy.

He notes one easy way for producers to help educate the general public is to participate in school visits.

“It is really effective when kids can actually hear from a real-life farmer or rancher about what they do and get to meet somebody who is actually doing this type of work,” Meloy explains. “It is even better when that farmer or rancher comes into the visit with educational resources, maybe something like our brand-new Book of the Year all about soybeans called Full of Beans; Henry Ford Grows a Car.” 

Educating the general public

Meloy also notes farmers and ranchers shouldn’t be afraid to step out and educate the general public about modern agriculture, as today’s consumers are genuinely curious about where their food comes from.

“Our consumers today are genuinely curious about who is growing their food, how they’re growing it and why they are growing it the way they do,” he says. “When it comes down to it, we all really do share the same values. We care about the environment. We want clean water and healthy soil. We want our animals to be well cared for.” 

Meloy continues, “It is important for us to share the Foundation’s educational resources, and then to encourage conversations so we can bridge the divide between consumers and agriculture.”Hannah Bugas is the assistant editor for the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to roundup@wylr.net

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