Jean Schwieder

Schwieder

Last November my husband, Boyd, and I went to the tri-state wheat industry meeting in Spokane, Washington. Wheat Industry leaders from Idaho, Oregon and Washington host this yearly meeting that attracts many farmers from those three states. Boyd attended committee meetings and I joined him at meals where they would always have good motivational speakers. After listening to these up-beat talks, it always makes me want to come home and shout to our community of what a wonderful agriculture world we live in!

Just what is our story? Who needs to hear this story? There are many misconceptions concerned with agriculture, farming, ranching, wheat production, cattle raising, etc.

I’m sure we all have heard these: The gas cows give off is causing a lot of problems with the carbon in the air which contributes to global warming; GMO foods are being produced and sold without the public knowing about it; farmers are making millions of dollars and don’t have to pay taxes; all pesticides and herbicides create health problems, especially cancer; animals should not be used for food; etc.

We are seeing more of these new “impossible meats” that are being presented to us as substitutes for “real meat,” such as plant-based “pork.” What about those artificial milks such as almond milk? The Wikipedia definition of milk is: “a natural rich, white liquid produced by the mammary glands of mammals...” I really don’t believe almonds have mammary glands!

What are the answers to these questions and statements or are there any answers? If we don’t know we had better find out because there are more and more people believing these things. That means less and less of the population is aware of what goes into producing the food we eat. As more people are unaware of the production of their food, they are also unaware of the work that goes on in the agriculture communities around our nation.

When I was young, most of my classmates lived and worked on a farm or were only one generation removed from living on the farm. We lived in what would be considered a “farming community.” The residents understood the farming life. Even our schools worked with the farming calendar. In the spring and fall, school would start an hour earlier so the students and teachers could help with the farm field work. In late September or early October we got out of school for 2 to 3 weeks for spud harvest. Our classmates would join us in Dad’s potato fields as we picked potatoes into wire baskets and then emptied the baskets into gunny sacks. We worked in pairs and often alongside other pairs as we moved up and down the half mile rows. We joked, told stories, shared dreams, and enjoyed our days of working out in the fresh air.

Those families who did not live on a farm usually had a large garden, often a cow to milk and some chickens plus a pig or two. So everyone seemed to understand working with animals and the soil and the time and effort it took to plant, raise and harvest a crop, no matter how small. As children, we still found time each week to spend with our friends whether it be a daily dip in the swimming hole on Sand Creek, or playing soft ball or volley ball in the evenings on the school playground. We were accepted as equals, all of us, farmers and non-farmers alike.

Everyone knew what a farm was, knew what was produced in our areas and many times contributed to farm labor in some way or another. Today, because of modern technology in farm equipment, a farmer can work his fields with fewer laborers, thus fewer people are directly involved in food production.

I watch the farm land in our area being sold and homes being built on ground where I used to pick potatoes. As farms are sold, less and less land is available for production. Yes, production has increased so that it takes less farm ground to produce more, but we do still need to produce!

Agriculture will always be an important part of our lives and we need to be able to tell our story in such a way that people not only listen but understand that agriculture should be an important part of their lives.

Reach Jean Schwieder at 208-522-8098 or straddlinthefence@gmail.com.