Agriculture impacts everyone, from the suburbs of Chicago to the bootheel of Missouri. For some, agriculture is a way of life, but for others it is their unrecognized provider.
Missouri Farm Bureau realized the disconnect between agriculture providers and consumers. They started Thank a Farmer Week in 1999 in an effort to help the public understand its dependency on agriculture. The “Thank a Farmer” promotion is still going strong more than a decade later. This year, the event ran from Feb. 8 through Feb. 14.
The bureau’s goal for the week-long promotion was to help people see the connection among individuals, the economy and agriculture. Diane Olson, Missouri Farm Bureau Promotion and Education Director, wanted the week to open the eyes of uninformed people.
“I hope it to be an ‘ah-ha’ experience for a lot of people when they connect things in their life to agriculture,” Olson said.
Members were encouraged to share their stories during Thank a Farmer Week through social media to spread important farm facts, reach out to radio stations, set up booths in the grocery store and bring agriculture to the classrooms.
In addition, members collected food items and pull tabs during the Missouri Farm Bureau Annual Meeting in December. The items collected were delivered to Ronald McDonald Houses in Kansas City, Springfield, Joplin and Columbia. Nick Roberts, the Missouri Farm Bureau East Central Regional Coordinator, and other members delivered to the Columbia location on Wednesday, Feb. 11.
Thank a Farmer Week was a way to gain support for the agriculture community, according to Olson. The connections made were important for all farmers in the long run.
The goal was to help change the opinions of those who don’t understand agriculture production methods by sharing honest information, Olson said. When controversial agriculture political issues arise, a better-informed public will feel more connected to agriculture when making decisions regarding their own livelihood.
“If you are not a farmer, you rely on a farmer,” Olson said.
The United Nations estimates the world population will grow to 9.6 billion people by 2050, according to the Farm Bureau Federation. More people mean more mouths to feed. This will require farmers to provide more food than ever before. With the huge challenge of the growing population, farmers need more support than ever, Olson said.