Farm Credit Producing Excellence Program Reveals Top Four 2012 Agricultural Trends
Top Trends Include Consumers Reconnecting with Producers, Local Food Movement, Increasing Number of Women Leaders in Agriculture and Careers in AgricultureDENVER, Feb. 1, 2012 – At a time when consumers are craving information about how their food gets from the farm to the table, Farm Credit, a national provider of financing and related services to agriculture and rural America, continues its 95th anniversary celebration by educating consumers about the diversity of agriculture and food production through informative customer stories. The online series, called Producing Excellence, highlights the strength, ingenuity and contributions of America’s agricultural producers, including producers’ essential role in the economy. Farm Credit has featured dozens of individuals and families who represent excellence in agriculture and rural America. These profiles also offer a glimpse into four key industry trends for 2012: 1. A growing connection between consumers and producers 2. Agriculture careers offer a bright spot in the U.S. economy 3. Strong consumer and producer interest in locally grown food 4. An increasing number of female farm operators This is a really interesting article from a respected institution, not sensationalist stuff or advertizing. It's worth clicking "read more" to check out the whole article. Reconnecting Consumers and Producers Consumers have grown increasingly disconnected from their food supply, yet clearly want to reengage. Research from the U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance (USFRA) shows that 72 percent of consumers know nothing or very little about farming or ranching, but nearly the same number say that their purchase decisions are impacted by how food is grown and raised. Producing Excellence features the stories of Fred Fleming co-owner of Shepherd’s Grain in Wash. and Jimmy Carter of Southern Belle Farm in Ga. who understand the importance of sharing the story of agriculture, and are doing their part to raise awareness about American agriculture among consumers. Careers in Agriculture Agriculture is attracting the next generation of farmers from diverse backgrounds, including James and Sandy Stepp, who left the IT world to establish the Wichita Buffalo Company in Okla., and Joe Freeman, who retired from his corporate career to set up a small cattle operation in Miss. Farm Credit organizations support this trend through programs focused on assisting young and beginning farmers, and those running smaller operations, with financing options and business planning skills. Both on and off the farm, agriculture is a bright spot in the U.S. employment market, with hiring trending upward in both urban and rural areas. According to the USDA, one in 12 American jobs is agriculture-related. Farm Credit is currently recruiting for nearly 200 positions in dozens of markets nationwide, and expects to continue hiring throughout 2012. Local Food Movement Gaining Support from Consumers and Farmers Consumers and farmers across the U.S. are embracing locally grown, farm-to-table food. Organic grower Scott Edwards of Fertile Crescent Farm in Ga. sells the majority of his produce at the local farmer’s market, and says, “I know that as much as we can grow, we can sell.” The local food movement isn’t limited to rural areas: College-professor-turned-producer Dennis Derryck set out to improve the poor nutritional prospects of a South Bronx community by organizing a small team of N.Y. vegetable growers to deliver on a unique distribution model. The process led Derryck to establish his own Corbin Hill Road Farm. More Women are Shaping Agriculture For centuries, women have played important, but often unsung, roles on the farm; today, an increasing number of women are taking on leadership roles. In fact, more than 1 million women operate farms in the U.S. – a 22 percent increase since 1997 – and are principal operators of more than 14 percent of the nation’s farms. Third-generation farmer Mary Alice Garay owns and operates a large N.M. chile farm, and also serves on the Ag New Mexico board of directors. Mary Fritz is a fourth-generation rancher who owns and operates a dry land grain and cow/calf operation in Mont. Fritz brings her insight to leadership roles within agriculture, serving on several boards of directors including her current roles with the Farm Credit Council and CoBank. Farm Credit has a 95-year history of supporting the farmers and ranchers who are growing the industry with their innovation, passion and commitment to feeding the world. View these and many more stories at FarmCredit.com/ProducingExcellence. About Farm Credit: Lending Support to Rural America For 95 years, Farm Credit has been a national provider of credit and related services to ruralAmerica through a cooperative network of customer-owned lending institutions and specialized service organizations. Created by Congress in 1916, the Farm Credit System provides more than $175 billion in loans and leases to farmers, ranchers, rural homeowners, aquatic producers, timber harvesters, agribusinesses, and agricultural and rural utility cooperatives. For more information about the Farm Credit System, please visit www.farmcredit.com.