Focusing on Agricultural Issues

Article excerpt

Americans are more concerned than ever about the quality of their lives. We've come to expect the highest possible standard of well-being for ourselves and our children. Any threat to that well-being--real or imagined--evokes a strong response.

Unfortunately, in our increasingly urbanized nation, consumers often can be misled about the American system of food production in our concern for assuring ourselves longer, healthier lives. Groundwater contamination problems caused by agriculture are widely broadcast. Hysteria has arisen over food safety and the use of pesticides in food production. However, the persistent presentation of the facts about American agriculture's food safety protection system can boost public confidence.

Scientific progress continues to generate new techniques to increase crop yields; to improve animal health, reproduction and growth; and to develop new strategies to reduce production costs. Increasing international competition in food and fiber markets, including the U.S. food market, will force American agriculture and related industries to adapt and keep pace with technological advances and market opportunities.

Given the universal importance of food, it is not out of line to assume that agriculture is the foundation of what is increasingly becoming a global community. Today's most pressing issues--the environment, the national debt, international trade and world health--are all closely related to agriculture.

As in other areas of the world, particularly in Europe, agricultural-urban conflicts will continue to surface. Agriculture will become more regulated. Agriculture will have to operate as a part of society and will not be exempt as a "special case." Non-farm people will have more to say about the raising, processing and safety of their food supply. Customers overseas will have more to say about America's food production and processing systems.

Focusing on Agricultural Issues has been developed for use by agricultural education teachers and others to increase awareness of agricultural issues among agriculture students and the "non-agricultural" public. …