As a mom trusts teachers, we must trust farmers

On the Farm column

Last Thursday was the day I had been dreading for days, weeks, months, heck, even years. My baby, my first born, my best buddy, my son — it was his first day of kindergarten.

While many mommas experienced excitement and joy to be sending their wild beasts back to school, I was giving myself serious anxiety and was stealing away to any quiet, desolate place I could when the crocodile tears showed up. It was especially hard for me since I didn’t grow up here, and while it is now my home, the unfamiliar and the unknown worried and frightened me.

His dad and I did meet the teacher on Monday before he started, and she didn’t seem too scary. She answered some questions, talked with my son, and sent us home with a packet of info about her teaching style, schedule, etc. Still, so many questions were going through my head. Would he be OK all day without me? Seriously momma, chill out, you have been a working mom all his life.

Would his teacher like him? (he’s such a good kid, of course she will.) Will other kids be mean to him? Yes, yes they will, but you and his daddy have worked hard to be sure he is kind to others, to be friends to those who need it, and to be strong enough to walk away from those who don’t deserve it. Will he get lost and be scared? Yes he will, and that’s OK. He will learn from being lost, and in the end, he will be stronger because of it.

You may be wondering where agriculture is going to come into this. I literally had to let go a little of my baby to people I don’t know. I have to trust my child’s life that their judgment, teaching practices, child-handling skills, sanitation, food-safety knowledge, and communication tactics are the best that they can be and that they have the best interest of our children in mind.

I did this with my child. Moms everywhere do this with their children. But yet, they don’t trust farmers who do the same thing with their food. I don’t eat my children (Lord knows there are days I understand why animals do, though), but for those of you who have children, I hope you can relate.

We as a society fear what we don’t understand, and with “answers” so easy to obtain online, we no longer feel that we need to visit farms, talk to the professionals (farmers), and get an actual experience. Not everything you read online is true. Anyone with any ideal can find information to support their thoughts and ideas, and of course, share their opinions. While I think social media can do great things, I think overall, it does far more bad than good.

Americans enjoy a food supply that is abundant, affordable overall and among the world’s safest, thanks in large part to the efficiency and productivity of America’s farm and ranch families. Those farming and ranch families comprise only 2 percent of the U.S population. Those 2 percent are feeding more people than ever before — and are expected to feed an expected global population of over 2.2 billion by 2050.

They will need to grow about 70 percent more food than what is already being produced. Did you know that about 98 percent of U.S farms are operated by family farms? Those families may be individuals, partnerships, or family corporations, and no matter how big or how small those farms may be, they are family owned and operated.

These farmers’ livelihoods depend on raising safe, wholesome and abundant food, whether it be crops, produce, livestock, etc. Farmers are faithful, hard-working, decent human beings, out there trying to make it another year. Are there bad apples? Absolutely. Just like there are teachers out there who aren’t the ideal humans for being around children or just bad humans in general. We let our babies go off to school, to experience things we may never know about, hoping they will be cared for and treated right. But do we just stop there? We don’t. We attend parent-teacher conferences, we talk to the school, we visit or volunteer in the classroom, and we ask questions.

I encourage you to do the same with your local farmers. They love to talk about what they do, and honestly, who knows better than them how they select their crops, how they feed their livestock and what apples are the best for making a pie? Have them show you what happens to a field of sweet corn when it’s been a wet year, and they weren’t able to spray for pests. Ask them about their technology that literally tells them what parts of the field are in need of fertilizer and which don’t. Farmers hate throwing money away, so they definitely aren’t out there spreading fertilizer where it’s not needed. That stuff is crazy expensive. It’s amazing.

Even if you are in agriculture, you don’t know everything. I promise. I learn new things every day about crops, grapes, bees, fish, and more. To sum it up, President Dwight D. Eisenhower said it best: “Farming looks mighty easy when your plow is a pencil and you’re a thousand miles from the corn field.”

Orahood is an Ohio Farm Bureau organization director serving Ashtabula, Geauga, Lake and Trumbull counties. She can be reached at aorahood @ofbf.org.