In my last post on PorkNetwork, I told you about a program called, “Moms on the Farm.” To refresh your memory, we take urban moms to actual working farms so they can get a true-to-life picture of production agriculture. We held one such tour on April 13 and the post-tour survey blew my mind.

One mom said she really appreciated going into the chicken house and seeing how chickens are raised. Here in Arkansas, you see trucks hauling chickens all the time. They’re packed together pretty tightly in little crates. This woman thought chickens lived their entire lives in those little pens she saw on the trucks going up and down the road. It gives a whole new meaning to the term, “truck farming!”

It was just jaw-dropping to read her comments on the survey, but those trucks are what people see. They don’t see how chickens are actually raised. This woman never thought about chickens being produced in a big open barn.

We need even more efforts to expose urban folks to modern agriculture. Here at the University of Arkansas, we have a program called, “Farm Friends on Campus.” Organizers bring in all these farm animals and then they bring in about 2500 kids. My five-year-old daughter, Vallie, and her class came to campus for the program recently. I met them there and went through with them.

Some of the kids had gone “past their good-behavior threshold,” so the director was going to take the kids home. They weren’t going to see the cattle and my daughter just loves cows. She looked at me and was just about to go into tears, so I told her, “It’s OK, you can stay with me for the rest of the day.”

We stayed an extra 30 minutes so she could pet the cows. The funny thing is, we have cows at home that she can pet! We have Simmentals, though, and this was a little Holstein heifer.  She wanted to pet “that Chik-fil-A” cow. You know – the one from the commercials.

So you see, if even our own rural kids can’t get enough of the farm animals, imagine the thrill for city kids to spend a little one-on-one time with the animals? Meanwhile, they’re learning the real facts about food production directly from those who grow and raise food. Maybe when these kids grow up and have families of their own, these experiences will help them have more confidence in the U.S. food system. We can only hope, and continue to do what we can to provide the full story.

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