Movie provides vehicle for farmers to express their point of view

An audience of close to 100 took advantage of the opportunity to view the movie “Farmland” for free in Jesse Auditorium on Thursday, Feb. 2.

The Boone County Farm Bureau and the University of Missouri Collegiate Farm Bureau hosted the event.

Farmland, a documentary directed by James Moll, features six young farmers throughout the United States. Through the course of the movie, these farmers answer many questions common of people who are unfamiliar with agricultural practices, describe their day-to-day lifestyles and clarify misconceptions.

“We thought there was a great turnout,” said Charlotte Bader, reporter for MU Collegiate Farm Bureau.

The audience was quite diverse, from MU students and local farmers to families and small children.

“Most of the attendees are involved in agriculture already, but a few not from ag backgrounds were reached,” Bader said.

The goal of the hosting organizations was to offer an accurate depiction of agriculture to the audience, and it seems that they were successful.

“I thought the movie was a great modern day representation of agriculture in America,” said Bader, who comes from a family farm herself.

Meet the farmers

Leighton Cooley of Georgia describes the functions of his 18 poultry houses while also managing a cow calf operation. Brad Bellah of Texas explains his tasks of being a beef cattle rancher and a new father to twins. David Loberg of Nebraska defines the tasks he completes as a corn and soybean farmer. Sutton Morgan highlights the different aspects of farming such as growing, picking, packaging, and distributing the potato, onion, and other vegetable crops he produces on his California farm. Margaret Schlass tells how she started her own naturally grown vegetable farm and works with her local Community Supported Agriculture membership program to sell her produce. Ryan Veldhuizen talks about the duties of a Minnesota hog farmer.

Each farmer answers questions about how uncontrollable aspects such as climate, weather and water affect each of them and their harvest. They discuss issues of fluctuating markets, high input costs with no guarantee of a good outcome cost, different farm structures needed to be successful, and how mechanization and technology have allowed each of them to succeed and expand.

Education

The documentary addresses the false notion that farmers are simple or “backwards.”

In the movie, cattle rancher Brad Bellah comments that, “we are just like everyone else, we just have different jobs.”

The movie also touches on current controversial topics, such as genetically modified organisms, chemical use, and hormones in meat.

All of the producers featured in the movie want to help the public understand what they do.

They attribute a majority of the public’s misconceptions to a lack of education about agriculture.

Education can be accomplished with farm tours, showing consumers how their food is raised and where it comes from. The documentary showed Cooley giving young children a tour of his poultry barns and teaching them about chickens.

Harvest

As the film comes to a close, each farmer is shown with his or her family and explains how the families support them. Family is there to help plant beans all night before the rain hits, to teach the best practices and techniques, for guidance, and to believe in you when you think no one else will.

The movie provides a vehicle for these farmers to share their stories and their hopes for the future of their family businesses — what they hope to see in the future of agriculture, and their farmland.

Cassie Lenzenhuber

About the Author Cassie Lenzenhuber

My name is Cassie Lenzenhuber. I was raised in the small town of Jonesburg, Missouri, about 50 miles east of Columbia. The town may be small, but growing up there has taught me many big lessons. It instilled in me a love for agriculture and a love for people. Graduation is not far off; I can see the light at the end of the tunnel! In May, I will be graduating with a degree in Agriculture with emphases in agricultural journalism, agricultural economics, and animal science. I am excited to see what the next chapter of life has in store for me!