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When will it be Farmer Week?

By Jennifer M. Latzke

I’m a fan of educational television.

If it’s on the History Channel, Discovery Channel or TLC, I will most assuredly watch it. Even if it’s only to learn how aliens might have really settled Earth, or to watch yet another hour-long documentary on the Civil War, or follow along on the zany real-life adventures of people who buy junk at auctions, hoard junk in their homes or sell junk to collectors. I love it all.

But there’s one week that I watch the Discovery Channel through the spaces between my fingers as my hands cover my eyes—Shark Week. It’s a week where the channel devotes all of its programming to shows about sharks. Nothing but 24 hours a day, seven days, full of great whites and tigers and makos—oh my!

This year, though, while I was cowering under a blanket on my couch and watching a mock-u-mentary on the Megalodon, I had an epiphany. And, if those fellas up at the Discovery Channel use this, I fully expect credit.

I want a Farmer Week.

You see, we now have a generation of television viewers who know more about an animal they may never see in the wild in their lifetime, than they do about the food they currently have sitting on the shelves in their pantries. The only seeds they’ve planted have come to their homes in little packets and not large bags. The only farm animals they’ve encountered have been in petting zoos.

We take for granted that we will have safe, wholesome and cheap three meals a day provided by our domestic producers and not dependent on foreign suppliers.

So, I want seven days of nothing but shows on agriculture. I want a documentary on the history of conservation tillage and other practices. I’d like to see a show that covers the science behind biotechnology—explaining in simple terms how we use science to grow more food with fewer resources for a growing population. I’d like a reality show following a farmer or a livestock producer and their families. I would watch a series of shows that goes in-depth into issues that rural communities face, like aging populations, diminishing populations, economic development, and more.

Let’s have a show that looks at the grocery business, the food manufacturing industry and even commodities exports and their role they play in our overall U.S. economy. Follow a commodity from the field, to the manufacturer, through its transportation, to the end user and see just how many Americans benefit from the fruits of farming and ranching.

And, to fill time, I’d also pad the schedule with shows about organic production or niche farming. There should be a competition show that deals with farmers markets and creating recipes from local and seasonal produce. And maybe there should be one that features the engineers and designers behind our modern farm equipment and technology.

We live in a nation that protects things it finds important, whether that’s the environment or an endangered species. We create laws. We devote TV time slots and merchandising opportunities to whole species.

I think it’s time we started to do the same for the American farmer.

Jennifer M. Latzke can be reached at 620-227-1807 or jlatzke@hpj.com.

Date: 9/02/2013

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