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http://capitalpress.com:80/main.asp?SectionID=75&SubSectionID=768&ArticleID=44760&TM=46328.41

Education efforts address misconceptions about agriculture

Frank Priestley Guest Opinion, Capital Press 9/25/08

Farmers and ranchers need consumers of all ages to understand more about modern agriculture and how the food they eat is produced. Yet with more than 100 activist groups using a combined annual budget of $500 million to constantly attack agriculture, we are often playing defense in spite of the fact that American consumers have access to the safest, most affordable and abundant food supply of anywhere on the planet.

Aside from the activists and their attempts to convince consumers the food supply is poisoned or that there is no need for animal agriculture, misconceptions originate and are perpetuated by dozens of different sources. American Farm Bureau Federation research shows misconceptions are commonly passed along through all forms of media including textbooks and children's books, but more often through advertising, movies and the Internet.

"Brown cows produce chocolate milk" is a common misunderstanding people have. An AFBF employee found a passage in a college textbook stating that all erosion is caused by human activities. The writer and editors had apparently never heard of the Grand Canyon.

In an effort to address these common misconceptions about agriculture, a new teaching tool was developed that uses sound, science-based information to help educate people about how the food they eat is produced. "Addressing Misconceptions About Agriculture," produced by the AFBF Foundation for Agriculture, sets the record straight on 35 topics ranging from DDT to global food issues and nutrition to organic food production.

The kit was designed for classroom use at the high school and college levels. Civic groups would also find it very useful. Two versions are available: The first lasts about 45 minutes, and the second presentation is shorter. Both are available on CD-ROM with an 11-page lesson plan, background information and three sets of student cards. The kits can be ordered online at www.ageducate.org or by contacting the Idaho Farm Bureau Federation at 208-239-4292.

In addition, the AFBF Farm Facts book is now available in hard copy and CD. Farm Facts features 30 pages of charts and graphics about the role of agriculture in our everyday lives. Now with a new Farm Facts Instructor's Guide for use in grades 7-12, teachers and others can access lesson plans to help teach this important information.

One more new teaching tool that is now available is a 12-page guide called "The Tree Farmer," by Chuck Leavell. It's a children's book about the importance of trees in our lives. Leavell is a former keyboardist for the Rolling Stones, the Allman Brothers and Eric Clapton.

Last, we have a 28-page guide to farmers' markets designed to get children moving and engaged in the daily activities of a farmer or a farmers' market manager.

One of our jobs here at IFBF is to reach out to consumers and provide information about agriculture to anyone who is interested. If any of these resource materials are of interest, please feel free to contact us.

Frank Priestley is president of the Idaho Farm Bureau Federation.

 

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