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An Open Letter to Everyone Who Eats

Dear Everyone Who Eats:

I’m Amanda. I’m currently a practicing attorney, but I was born and raised on my family’s farm in Southwest Michigan. We currently have about 2,000 acres of corn and soybeans. When I was growing up, my brothers and I worked on the farm alongside our parents and grandparents. We ran a roadside stand where we sold all the fresh produce we grew: sweet corn, tomatoes, cantaloupe, cucumbers, zucchini, peaches, blueberries, cabbage, eggplant…you get the idea. 

Sometimes it seems like food eaters and farmers are growing further and further apart. As generation after generation spends little-to-no time on the farm, we’re losing our connection. I’m afraid that means there’s a growing distrust of our food supply. That’s why I’m writing this: because even if you have never stepped foot on a farm, or have never met a farmer, there are a few things I want you to know. 

Our goal is to provide safe, nutritious, and quality food.

Sure, farmers need to make a living to support their families, keep a roof over their heads, and pay the bills. But we also take great pride in the crops that we grow and sell to your families. No matter what changes – from our tractors to the seeds we use–this fact will never change. Our goal is to sell quality, nutritious, and safe food that we can feel good about. 

Remember: we also eat the produce we raise! We certainly aren’t going to grow anything that would hurt our own families.

Farms are still mostly owned and operated by families.

Many businesses today, like Wal-Mart and Apple, may seem like faceless corporate giants that have nothing to worry about except profits. But business on the farm is still a family affair. In fact, 96 percent of farms in the United States are owned and operated by families

It’s true that our businesses are becoming more sophisticated. Farms are evolving from sole proprietorships into legal businesses entities. We use more formal contracts and less handshake agreements. And the science and technology we use is more and more advanced. But the heart of our operations is still our families. We work together, grow together, and produce together. Often, farmers just want to leave the farm to the next generation to continue their legacy.

We use technology on our farms to increase efficiency, protect the environment, and ensure our long term sustainability. 

You might be surprised to learn that our farms are advancing and progressing in awesome ways! We have automatic milkers for dairy cows. Drones tell us precise information about our soil quality. We employ genetic modifications to make crops more adaptable to different climates. We use nutritionists and veterinarians to ensure the health and wellbeing of our animals. And we’re adopting production methods that help us reduce carbon emissions. Technology and science has really improved life on the farm.

But it’s a long way from Old MacDonald and how farms are supposed to look. That might make some people uncomfortable about the way we produce food. If it does, I challenge you to consider all the ways technology has made your own life easier – smart phones, navigation devices, and social media. In agriculture, we’re just employing technology that makes our lives easier, too. We’re cautious about adopting new practices because, ultimately, we want to grow safe, nutritious, and quality food.

I encourage you to take any opportunities to visit a farm or talk to a farmer. Today, social media and the internet make all of this so much easier! Come with an open mind and all of your questions and concerns. Farmers are usually more than happy to talk about agriculture! 

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