By Amy Skoczlas Cole

The One-Percenters

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April 18, 2024

One of the data points that I found most disheartening from the recent release of the 2022 Census of Agriculture was that the number of American farms has decreased 6.7% since 2017. On that decreasing farmland, 3.4 million producers grow the food that feeds us all. That’s just over 1% of our country’s population. 

The One Percent Movement is a popularized nomenclature used to highlight the wealth gap in our country, but the same holds true for agriculture. As a society, we are more disconnected than ever from our food production.  

And yet, consumer research exists showing that farmers and ranchers are the most trustworthy people in the U.S., and Americans want to hear stories about what it’s like at the farm gate. It is well past time that agriculture start fiercely telling its own story. Consumers want to hear it, they want to use it to inform the decisions they are making for their families and it will help fill the void that is currently being filled by those who aim to misrepresent production agriculture.

Similarly, agriculture’s value chain is actively working to provide tools, programs, incentives and support for the dwindling population of farmers. Recently, I sat with rancher Debbie Lyons-Blythe in a panel during the 2023 Sustainable Agriculture Summit where she said that the key for her, and others like her, was for collaborators to visit her plot of dirt. Farmers need the value chain to connect with them on a personal level in order to align on solutions that are critical for the present and future of agriculture.

On top of all of this, farmers and ranchers need connection with each other as well. Ask any farmer or rancher who they trust most when making decisions that they need to run their farms and businesses and they’ll tell you they need to hear it from another farmer or rancher. When accelerating the adoption of conservation agriculture, in particular, farmers and ranchers need evidence that practices are working on similar farms and ranches.  

In this climate of disconnect, it is critical now more than ever that we work to close the gap between agriculture and the rest of the country. 

Trust In Food and our conservation program Trust In Beef is attempting to do just that this summer as we kick off the 2024 Sustainable Ranchers Tour. Brought to you by our Trust In Beef partners and a host of presenting sponsors, the tour will be paramount to efforts to bring ranchers together to share the pragmatic, boots-on-the-ground successes and challenges they are facing on their ranches and to allow the value chain to get their hands dirty bringing solutions that meet those challenges.

And, because we will be working with Farm Journal to bring coverage of the event to the masses, this tour will also be a way for us to bring the rancher story to consumers. 

We are pinning a lot of hope on this five-stop tour across the nation’s heartland. But, there is much work to do.  

Registration is open for the first stop in Texas right now.  

We hope that you will join us there, because getting our hands and boots dirty with the one-percenters is the surest way for us to all to realize that we aren’t so different after all. 

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