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March 5, 2014

I am proud to be a dirt farmer.

Standing in the same room as an FFA Advisor and hearing him say

 "There are no plows in this county and really we could all live without dirt farmers."

 might of set me on edge!

I stood there stunned silent (odd I know), watched my nephews face turn 4 shades of red as he shuffled me out the Ag room door! My mind reeled, I got hot under the collar, I vented, I slept, I asked my nephew if maybe he was joking, I took a shower and the words flowed-so now I write!

Dear FFA Advisor,

Ummmmm what????? I work really hard at not taking comments out of context so if I did I apologize. However since I was witness to the conversation I don't think I did, so I have to say:   "what the......, are you serious?"!!!

I will start with the fact I come from generations of 'dirt farmers' and proud of it! I married a sixth generation 'dirt farmer' and look forward to the day my kids, if they choose, become the seventh!

I took what you said personally, I can get sentimental about it, I can show you pictures of mine and my husbands family 'dirt farming' generations back and today, I can tell you about life daily from my perspective on our 'dirt farm' but in all reality that doesn't prove you can't live without us 'dirt farmers'.

I will rely on facts straight from the US government:

Corn: The United States is, by far, the largest producer of corn in the world, producing 32 percent of the world's corn crop in the early 2010s.  Corn is grown on over 400,000 U.S. farms. The U.S. exports about 20 percent of the U.S. farmer's corn production. Corn grown for grain accounts for almost one quarter of the harvested crop acres in this country.
According to the National Corn Growers Association, about eighty percent of all corn grown in the U.S. is consumed by domestic and overseas livestock, poultry, and fish production. The National Corn Growers Association also reports that each American consumes 25 pounds of corn annually. The crop is fed as ground grain, silage, high-moisture, and high-oil corn. About 12% of the U.S. corn crop ends up in foods that are either consumed directly (e.g. corn chips) or indirectly (e.g. high fructose corn syrup). Cornhas a wide array of industrial uses including ethanol, a popular oxygenate in cleaner burning auto fuels.  In addition many household products contain corn,  including paints, candles, fireworks, drywall, sandpaper, dyes, crayons, shoe polish, antibiotics, and adhesives.

Soybeans: Approximately 3.06 billion bushels of soybeans were harvested from 73.6 million acres of cropland in the U.S. in 2011. This acreage is roughly equivalent to that of corn grown for grain (84 million acres in 2011).  Soybeans rank second, after corn, among the most-planted field crops in the U.S. Over 279,110 (2007 Census of Agriculture) farms in the U.S. produce soybeans making the U.S. the largest producer and exporter of soybeans. , accounting for over 50% of the world's soybean production and $3-4 billion in soybean and product exports in the late 2000s. Soybeans represent 50 percent of world oilseed production.
Soybeans are used to create a variety of products, the most basic of which are soybean oil, meal, and hulls. According to the United Soybean Board, soybean oil, used in both food manufacturing and frying and sautéing, is the number one edible oil in the U.S.  Currently, soybean oil represents approximately 65 percent of all edible oil consumed in the United States, down from about 79 percent in 2000 due to controversy over trans-fat. Soybean oil also makes its way into products ranging from anti-corrosion agents to Soy Diesel fuel to waterproof cement. Over 30 million tons of soybean meal is consumed as livestock feed in a year. Even the hulls are used as a component of cattle feed rations. 

I choose these two crops merely because these and our hog operation solely support our family of five.  Dirt Farmers are major contributors to the US economy and to every sector of our industry.  I couldn’t begin to name all the crops grown in the United States but I know I would never presume that I could live without any farmers, ‘dirt’ or otherwise, that work heart and soul to produce what we need to survive.

We, as an industry, face so much adversity as a group that trying to decide who is more important within our industry is immensely counterproductive. We are a team, it is a circle, we ALL need each other and that Sir includes you-what you are teaching and saying to kids is important and has an impact. You are influencing OUR future. I get pride, be proud of where you come from and the contribution you make to agriculture, I know I am, but mutual respect and recognizing that it takes all of us needs to take precedence over individual pride for our industry to succeed!

                                                                                        Jennifer Campbell
                                                                                       Proud American Farmer