Supporting Young Farmers

It's our second core principal on this trip, to support young farmers. There's a number of ways we can do this, individually, and collectively, as a culture. One way is to contact our senators, and congresspeople, and tell them that we want legislation that supports young people interested in agriculture. We support measures like the Beginning Farmers and Ranchers Act. 
Another way, is through reflection, or prayer, depending on our spiritual path. Before eating, to give thanks for our day, for our family, our friends, and for the people who raise the food that sustains us. 
Monday morning at St. Peter High School, we got the opportunity to screen the first two sections of American Meat for two agricultural classes. The first was a group of about 20, including the 5 community members who joined. The next group, about 10. Most of these students were involved in agriculture, in dairy, raising hogs, and grain. 
The AgEd instructor, Ms. Lilenthal, herself is a farmer, coming from a family of Wisconsin dairy farmers, and who currently raises some steers and grain. We talked about the various advantages and disadvantages of different systems of agriculture. How in the cold winter we're having out here in Minnesota, farmers raising hogs in snow are appreciative of the chores being done inside. We talked about the upfront and continued costs of climate controlled barn, and outlined, for an agribusiness class, why some farmers get $.08 of every dollar spent at the grocery store, and other farmers get the full dollar. About the advantages and limitations of direct marketing, about how the cost of grain is so high now, that it wouldn't make much financial sense to plow under corn and beans in order to start raising animals on pasture. 
The second class, almost entirely farmers, was particularly engaged, and it being a handful of students, made it possible for us to learn a bit more about each farming operation. At the end, one young farmer who had been particularly aware of the issues at hand, said he was glad to see a documentary that was supportive of agriculture. These types of comments push us forward on our path. 

We drove North and East, stopping at Birchwood Cafe for a wonderful lunch, before heading further NE to Lindstrom, MN and the Val U Stay. Andy played a radio interview with a documentary filmmaker, who like us, is about to embark on a storytelling journey, aimed at highlighting the issues that face our nation's young farmers. 

Dinner was late and at a mostly empty sports bar where some regulars drunkenly professed a love of fish, as we split a pre-made cheese pizza and talked about coming plans. Distracted, we forgot to thank the farmers who raised the food on our plate. 
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