Education efforts address misconceptions about agriculture
Priestley Guest Opinion, Capital Press 9/25/08
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
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
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.