How Technology Takes Farming Forward

Farmers invite innovation through technology.

My wife wants a new car. Do we need a new car? Probably not. But one of the things that her current car does not have that newer ones do is updated technology. Sensors, warnings, sonar, cameras and other gadgets that I’m sure I will question the affordability of are all options on a new-model vehicle. Technology is what she wants, so technology we will get.

I recently bought a new phone. To unlock it, I just look at the phone and it senses that it is me by reading the features of my face. Wow ­– technology at work.

Unfortunately, I know a number of people going through disease treatments. Machines are hooked to their bodies fighting cells and illness. They take numerous pills developed in some of the world’s most advanced labs. The survival of these friends is much more likely than even a few years ago because of advancements in technology. Thank goodness for technology.

Technology dictates many areas of our lives. Technology is what we bet our future on. Advancing what we have will lead society to places it hasn’t gone before. We reach these advances through trial, error and, ultimately, research.

So what in the world does this have to do with Farm Bureau, you ask? Well, one area where technology is often questioned is in or around our food. The claim of excessive food labelers or anti-advanced agriculture is the harmless saying, “We want to know what is in our food!” Or even sometimes taken further by saying, “Consumers have a ‘right’ to know what is in their food.”

Spoiler alert! Farmers agree. Farmers I work with every day are happy to share with you the GPS technologies making them more efficient on less land. They are anxious to explain how cellular- and internet-based technologies alert them when the conditions of their livestock get outside of optimal range. Farmers want to use less medicines, antibiotics, fuel, chemicals, fertilizers or other inputs because not only is that more efficient, but it can often be more profitable.

Photo by Jeffrey S. Otto

To do these things, however, farmers implement technologies. They do what is best to remain in business and continue providing for their families and yours by increasing efficiency like any other industry.

GMO crop technologies have allowed many farmers the ability to spray less pesticide, not more. Antibiotics and other medicines, drones, soil tests, forage samples, robotics, remote sensing, and many more are all technologies farmers add to their toolboxes to produce a safe, abundant food supply for the world. These are also none of the things that show up on the additions to your food label.

I have best seen questions or prejudices in play when Farm Bureau puts together a farm tour for nonfarming consumers. Some come on the tour looking for answers. Some come to tell all they know from working in their grandparents’ garden. Some come to fact check what they read on Facebook or a blog. And honestly, some just come to see the big tractors. Moms, politicians, the elderly, children, different races, different socioeconomic backgrounds, and many more come to the farm each with their preconceived notions.

Let me tell you how most of them leave. Amazed. Secure. Refreshed. Hopeful. Intrigued. And humbled. The only ones I have seen leave disappointed were those that came looking to bring down agriculture with a new found secret to share.

While farmers adjust to market trends to meet demand, can you imagine where an informed consumer could really lead us? Consumers crave cellphone, vehicle, medicine and other technological advances; thus we continue to see leaps and bounds in these fields. If scare tactics would get out of the way of our food supply, we might see even greater advances in our food industries, too.

Farmers want progress. Do you, as a consumer, want to improve with them? Or rather stand in their way? Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation is ready to help you join us in moving the food supply of our world forward.

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