Jeremy Brown, a West Texas farmer, speaks to students on his farming practices.
INDIANAPOLIS – The #SpeakAg workshop during the national convention and expo gave FFA members the opportunity to hear from two farmers about the conventional and organic practices on their farms.
Jeremy Brown, a West Texas farmer, discussed the conventional side of his farm while Jared Luhman, a grower from Minnesota, shared his organic practices. The two don’t just stick to one practice over the other, however, as they both produce conventional and organic crops. Brown and Luhman discussed consumer perception and the environmental impact of each.
“The students believe conventional agriculture is to feed a growing population. To the group as a whole, I tried to explain the challenges since I do have organic land and nonorganic land. Your production practices are different. In the organic cotton, tillage is the only weed management I have. With the introduction of biotechnology, we can focus on soil health,” Brown said.
Paul Spooner of the U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance says the organization supports all farming practices. “Their session said you can grow conventional or you can grow organic. Whatever makes sense for your farm. It’s the importance of being informed and understanding the background of both production practices,” Spooner said.
Brown was a past FFA member and believes it’s important to provide opportunities for students to engage in these discussions. “We are a resource to educate them on the science and what the research shows. I hope I educated them and if they’ve never been to a cotton farm, I gave them a glimpse of what it’s like to grow cotton in West Texas to broaden their perspective.”
FFA members can share what they learn about farming practices to be a voice for agriculture. “With technology today, there are so many mediums out there for you to show what you’re doing. We as farmers think everybody understands us, but in reality, the growing population is being further removed from the farm. They really don’t know where their food and fiber comes from. That’s why it’s important to tell our story and for FFA to engage students in that way,” Brown says.
For more information on farming practices, visit fooddialogues.com.
Lauren Schwab is a graduate of Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. She works full time on her family’s pig farm as the farrowing house manager. She is a freelance writer and blogger at farmgirlwithcurls.com.