For Land O’Lakes, Inc. CEO Beth Ford, the best part of her job is meeting farm families. She recently told TIME Magazine, “I’m just such an admirer. I grew up in Iowa. I admire their resilience, their passion for what they do.” Here’s the thing – in a survey Land O’Lakes commissioned in late 2022, we learned that about 40% of Americans have never met a farmer.
So on National Ag Day, we’re taking a moment to shine a light on farmers and the irreplaceable role they play in the vibrancy of communities, our food supply and the future of the planet.
Farmers are incredible because they produce the food we eat. And they’re stepping up to the challenge of feeding a growing population with less resources. Beth told TIME, “I don’t think Americans largely understand the fragility and the interconnectedness of the food supply. The planet’s population is set to grow to about 10 billion people by 2050. During that time, we need to produce more food than the last 8,000 years combined. That’s the challenge—with less fresh water, less arable land.”
Farmers are incredible because they’re the original entrepreneurs and are shaping the future of agriculture by leveraging technology. However, nearly half of respondents in our recent survey said the job is not technologically advanced, rather, more “traditional.” This highlights the need to more broadly share the story of the data, innovation and digital tools that make modern farming possible.
Farmers are incredible because 98% of U.S. farms are family-owned and operated. Family farms are critical to the future and fabric of food production and agriculture. But respondents to our survey found that Americans believe that less than half of U.S. farms are family-owned and operated. Consumers also underestimated the amount of food that comes from family farms, with the average belief being only 43% — compared to the actual 88%.
Farmers are incredible because they are adopting regenerative practices that benefit the planet. Our sustainability business, Truterra, is enabling farmers to implement practice changes such as cover crops and tillage reduction. The 2021 program (2022 results will be released soon!) resulted in more than $4 million in payments to eligible farmers who sequestered over 200,000 metric tons of carbon. Meanwhile, a quarter of the respondents believe that sustainable farming will reduce farmers' profits.
National Ag Week is a great opportunity to celebrate the contributions of farmers and agriculture. By telling their story and engaging with consumers, we can help bridge these gaps and build a stronger, more sustainable food system for all.