Ryan Veldhuizen
Ryan Veldhuizen

Hollywood has come to the Heartland, and Ryan Veldhuizen is welcoming the opportunity to shine the spotlight on modern livestock production through Farmland, a new feature-length documentary film.

“Farming has always been in my blood, and it’s what I’ve always loved,” said Veldhuizen, a fourth-generation farmer who runs a nursery-to-finish swine operation near Edgerton, Minn. “I also grew up with pork production and love it, too.”

Veldhuizen is one of six farmers and ranchers, all in their 20s, who are sharing their stories through Farmland, produced by Academy Award®-winning filmmaker James Moll. The film, which debuted this spring, chronicles the high-risk/high-reward nature of farming by offering a firsthand glimpse into the lives of producers as they begin their careers.

“I appreciate how Farmland is creating a dialogue about farming and pork production,” said National Pork Board President Karen Richter, a pork producer from Montgomery, Minn. “Farmland gives people a first-hand look at how their food is produced and puts a face on modern agriculture.”

The film, made with support from the U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance, also highlights passion for a way of life passed down from generation to generation, but yet continues to evolve.

“In Farmland, audiences will hear thoughts and opinions about agriculture, but not from me and not from a narrator,” Moll said. “They’re from the mouths of the farmers and ranchers themselves.”

Moll hopes urban audiences learn as much watching the film as he did making it. “I want everyone who eats to see this movie,” Moll told reporters at New York City’s 2014 Tribeca Film Festival, who represented Bloomberg, National Geographic, POLITICO, Reuters, RFD-TV, Agri-Pulse Communications and other leading media outlets.

Meet the Next Generation of Farmers: Ryan Veldhuizen pork producer Ryan Veldhuizen attended the Tribeca Film Festival and shared a behind-the-scenes look into the creation of Farmland.

How did you become a candidate for Farmland? Allentown Productions was looking for farmers in their 20s who are taking over family operations. Our family was selected as the 2013 Minnesota Pork Family of the Year, and our name was submitted.

What interested you in participating? I farm with my brother and sister, and we felt Farmland was a good opportunity to have our voice heard when speaking about agriculture. Too often, the farmer’s voice is not heard. The film presented a reasonable opportunity to present the farmer’s perspective.

What were some key messages you tried to share? I wanted to put a face on a family that producers food and accurately portray a modern family farm that embraces technology.

What was filming like? The crew followed me for two days each month for five months. They wanted to see my daily routine such as working with the hogs, grinding feed, fixing machinery and being in the field.

How did audiences at the 2014 Tribeca Film Festival react to Farmland? For the non-ag audience, it was a surprise to see the farmers who grow their food. For many, it was nice tosee agriculture shown in an accurate light.

Anything else you like to add about Farmland? Share the film, and encourage your non-farm friends to go see it.