The role of agriculture in our society is one of the most important aspects needed for our survival. Agriculture is a smooth-running, invisible giant that efficiently provides the necessary food, fiber and fuel that we as human beings need every day of our lives.
The fact that agriculture is so efficient may be to its detriment as well; today more than at any other time in our history there is a widening void in agriculture literacy because fewer and fewer people actually know where their food comes from, how it is grown or raised, or the steps prior to their food being put in the visually appealing displays of their local super markets.
The average citizen is removed from the process of growing or raising food and also wants convenience when it comes to food. Consumers have voiced their wants, and the agriculture sector has happily answered with a wide variety of solutions to the issues raised.
Examples of convenience entail buying prepackaged food items such as cereals, pre-washed and packaged salad mixes, ready made meals, and a host of other processed or appealingly packaged foods items. The isles of our grocery stores are everyday testaments to the growing want of convenience.
Since the majority of consumers are removed from the process of agriculture this raises a question: What can be done to educate consumers and raise agriculture literacy in our society? There is an ever growing need to show people the importance of agriculture and how every aspect of their life is determined in some shape or form by the agriculture sector.
It is important to have a population that is well educated on the matters of agriculture so that sound decisions can be made by voters when a proposition that will affect the agriculture sector is put on the ballot.
The gap in agriculture literacy that we are seeing today stems from the fact that more and more people are living away from farms and ranches, they have become removed from the process of the agriculture industry. This is where Ag Literacy Programs play such a vital role. These programs successfully reach youth across the United States that would not otherwise learn about agriculture. They are able to enlighten children who were not lucky enough to be taught this important information about agriculture in another setting, allowing them to grow up with a sound knowledge that they can use as they grow into adulthood.
The fact that 98% of people have little to no knowledge about agriculture needs to change. People in our society need to have a good knowledge about farming and ranching practices, and the process of how their food gets to the table, so that they can have a full appreciation and realization of how greatly agriculture plays a role in all of our lives, especially those that live in the city.
“An agriculturally literate person would understand the food and fiber system and this would include its history and its current economic, social and environmental significance to all Americans” as defined by the National Research Council. The need to educate the public about agriculture is of high importance on the social, environment, and economical scale.