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How 'Farmland' will help bridge the gap between farmers and consumers
by David White
There’s a good chance it will make you laugh, smile and possibly even cry. And as one moviegoer said upon exiting the theater, “any movie that makes me cry is a good movie.”
It made me yearn for life on the family farm.
On May 1, Farmland will be coming to theaters in more than 60 major markets and will be screened in rural communities, too. It’s the latest documentary from Academy Award winning director James Moll.
In the film, Moll goes behind-the-scenes and follows six young American farmers and ranchers whose passion for their jobs is extremely inspirational. In doing so, Farmland takes an intimate look at the lives of farmers and ranchers who are in their 20s, all of whom are responsible for running their farming businesses.
The documentary chronicles the farmers’ and ranchers’ high-risk/high-reward jobs and their passion for a way of life that has been passed down from generation to generation, yet continues to evolve. Better yet, Farmland audiences will hear the thoughts and opinions about food, farming and agriculture not from a narrator or the film’s director, but from the mouths of the farmers and ranchers themselves.
Whether it’s organic or conventional, the film explores all sides of the equation with a respectful balance. Moll’s fair approach gives the farmers and ranchers an open forum to discuss controversial issues such as GMOs and the treatment of animals without bias and over-dramatization.
I viewed a screening of Farmland at the Cleveland Film Festival last month. It drew a big crowd as both screening rooms were nearly full. The documentary will help link consumers to producers and no doubt spark conversation. It also will help build and enhance trust in food and agriculture for a variety of reasons:
It focuses on shared values, which are the foundation of building trust: empathy, transparency, respect for choice, safety, affordability, sustainability and science.
Consumers want to know about the care and love that farmers and ranchers put into their operations, and the film does that.
These real farmers and ranchers demonstrate the way they go about using technology and care for animals, people and the planet.
Information is shared that is truthful, objective, reliable and complete.
The most important reason why Farmland will help build and enhance trust in farming and ranching is that audiences can relate to the film’s subjects who have similar experiences that many non-farm families face.
As you engage in conversations with family, friends and neighbors about Farmland, keep in mind these helpful steps to healthy engagement:
1. Listen – Don’t judge
2. Ask questions to invite dialogue
3. Clarify their perspective
4. Identify common values
5. Share your perspective
For a full list of theaters showing the film, as well as to watch the advance trailer, information about the film and documentary subjects, please visit www.farmlandfilm.com.
David White is OFBF’s senior director of commodity relations