As I’m sitting in an airport pondering what direction I want to take my first editorial with the newly minted Oregon Aglink, I’m overhearing people complain about their overbooked and delayed flights, seating that is too tight, and the lively debate about the Presidential race. I would be a fool to take on the pros and cons of the election, and that topic definitely doesn’t fall under the “Warm and Fuzzy” category, but the airline complaints stem from the fact that more people are traveling and there are fewer flights to get them where they need to go. Sadly, it isn’t going to get any better.
With my first column I want to focus on a more positive, quality verses quantity, subject. Something true Oregonians would understand. As I mull this thought around, I start to think about the number of people moving into Oregon. Why wouldn’t they? We don’t get hit with devastating fluctuations in weather or natural catastrophes on a regular basis. Despite the drought of 2015, we still have plenty of water in most places, which leads to all sorts of great outdoor opportunities and a great farming environment. People are drawn to our rural charm. Our state has a lot going for it. But, Oregon isn’t the only state with population growth; data shows we will be expected to feed more than 9 billion people by 2050. That’s only 34 years from now!
This topic has teeth, especially looking at it from a producer’s point of view. How do we plan to accomplish this feat of producing enough food and fiber with limited availability of land, water, plant protectants, and having to work under constant scrutiny and constraints? Granted, technology will play a major role, but we as business owners have to work on our image. Perception is reality, and right now our perceived perception to the public is mixed at best. Working with the Adopt a Farmer program has opened my eyes to the fact we have a long ways to go. The good news, though, is that whether it’s our Adopt a Farmer program, or FFA and Ag in the Classroom, we are hitting the very ages we need to engage. These grass roots efforts have an easy story to tell if we get behind them with our financial and intellectual support. We need to enlighten the naïve and misinformed. Remember, there is going to be more and more of the misinformed as the years go by, so we have to start now.
Organizations such as Oregon Aglink, the Oregon Farm Bureau, Oregon Women for Ag, or any of the other hard working organizations that dedicate their time to getting our voice heard, are here to serve you. Help us help you!
As you know, it will be an uphill battle for the Natural Resource Industry and for anyone dedicated to creating food and fiber, to gain a foothold. Thirty-four years is not that long so we need to start the pendulum swinging our direction.
In spite of the microscope we live under, I’m optimistic for the future of agriculture. I see progress being made in technology, and in the classroom. Oregon Aglink is working hard at “cultivating common ground” between farmers and the urban consumer, along with putting a face on the family farm. We represent a pretty cool industry. That is something to smile about. 🙂
Lori Pavlicek, 4B Farms