Most everyone knows that the backbone of the Kansas economy is agriculture. It always has been and most likely always will be. But with fewer – but bigger – farms and fewer farmers, how farming produces millions and millions of dollars every year isn’t always understood.
That’s why programs such as the Reno County Farm Bureau’s annual Farm 2U day at the Kansas State Fairgrounds are so important. The latest version was Monday and brought 411 Reno County third-graders to see demonstrations about agriculture and learn how valuable it is to our state.
Generations ago, a third of the population was involved in farming. Today, less than 2 percent are working farmers. Because of that, there are generations that have never experienced farming and don’t know what it’s about.
“There is a growing disconnect,” said Derek Zongker, a Reno County farmer. “Many of these kids are three or four generations removed from the family farm. A lot of them might have a little bit of knowledge but don’t realize all we raise – the different facets of agriculture we have in our country.”
Zongker and other farmers taught the youngsters about where their food comes from. The format used was “the four Fs” of agriculture – fiber, fuel, food and “pharmaceuticals.” It gave the third-graders an up-close look at what farming is all about and how that impacts them when they sit down at the dinner table every night.
Adults could learn, too. It’s not everyone who knows that all parts of cattle are used for something. That could mean Crayons, cosmetics, rubber, toothpaste, asphalt and even antifreeze. It’s truly amazing how agriculture has evolved and how so few farmers can feed so many and produce a vast array of other products.
Agriculture is taken for granted by some. It shouldn’t be. It’s a vital part of our history, fabric, economic stability and our ability to feed not just the nation, but the world. Everyone needs to be aware of its importance, and these lucky youngsters got to learn just how important farmers are in a first-hand way.