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Educating young consumers: Key to reducing urban-rural divide

Photo courtesy of American Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture

We continue to emphasize the importance of connecting with consumers. This is especially important when we think about bridging the urban-rural divide.

One institution believes farmers can lessen the urban-rural divide  by speaking with young consumers. Perhaps those in grade school.

The American Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture is “helping learners of all ages understand agriculture and the important role it plays in our daily lives.”

Daniel Meloy, executive director of the Foundation, speaks about the organization, which offers various resources to educational institutions.

“What we do is get those (materials) into the hands of teachers and classroom volunteers, so they can educate kids before they become detached,” Meloy said. “(We’re) making sure kids are learning about where their food comes from before we hit that detachment mark.”

One easy way to educate the non-farm public is by visiting a classroom, according to Meloy.

“It is effective when kids can hear from a farmer or rancher, hear what they do and get to meet somebody who’s doing that work. It’s even better when that farmer or rancher can come in with education resources like our book of the year, (which) is about soybeans. It’s called, ‘Full of Beans; Henry Ford Grows a Car.’”

Meloy encourages farmers to share their story with the non-farm public, as consumers are curious about where their food comes from.

“When it comes down to it, we share the same values,” Meloy said. “We care about the environment, we want clean water, healthy soil and our animals to be well cared for. It’s important for us to share the foundation’s education resources, and encourage conversations, so we can bridge that divide between consumers and agriculture.”

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