BOISE — Hundreds of people got an intimate peek into the lives of American and Idaho farmers Aug. 6 during the Idaho premiere of the feature-length documentary “Farmland.”
The 740-seat Egyptian Theatre in downtown Boise was mostly full for the event, which included a panel of five Idaho farmers and ranchers who provided the audience a glimpse into their world.
Idaho State Department of Agriculture Director Celia Gould used the occasion to tell the audience a little about Idaho agriculture and remind them how important it is to the state.
“Today, agriculture remains Idaho’s strongest industry, the lifeblood of our rural communities and it is still a dynamic part of our urban areas,” said Gould, a farmer and rancher. “Farmers aren’t relics of the past.”
Farmland provides viewers a glimpse into the lives of six young farmers and ranchers around the nation and was produced by Oscar and Emmy award winning director James Moll.
It covers the risks, rewards and challenges of agriculture and includes tears, death and prayers for rain.
“It’s what agriculture really is — the good times and the bad times,” said event organizer and rancher Chenal Tewalt. “That’s what we need people to see.”
The movie itself covered a large range of issues surrounding the farming industry today, including genetic engineering, the use of pesticides and other chemicals, animal abuse and the use of hormones and antibiotics in livestock.
The film was brought here by Idaho farm groups who saw it as an opportunity to educate a non-farming audience about agriculture, but farmers and ranchers who viewed it were impressed as well.
“The opportunity to view this movie ‘Farmland’ is a huge benefit to all of us in agriculture,” said cattle rancher Laurie Lickley, one of the panelists. “It was absolutely remarkable.”
Canyon County farmer Sid Freeman, one of the panelists, said he thought the film “was very well put together and as far as presenting our story, that’s the kind of piece that we need.”
Before the film started, the panelists answered predetermined questions that offered moviegoers a look into their world.
When asked to describe what a typical day on their operation looks like, the answer was that there is no such thing.
“Typical is really not in our vocabulary,” Lickley said.
Lickley used one of the questions as an opportunity to address sustainability, which she said hasn’t been defined.
“I will define it for you,” she said. “It is about creating opportunities for the next generation.”
Panelists were asked to describe their best and worst days farming.
Winemaker Gregg Alger said his worst day was when one of the first crops he produced was wiped out. “It crushed me,” he said. “But my wife reminded me, ‘It is God’s to give and God’s to take.’”
Lickley said, “They’re all good days when you’re raising the food and fiber for the world. I wish everybody in America had the opportunity to come and spend a day with each one of us.”