Glass of chocolate milk

Across the Table: ‘Facts’ about agriculture often aren’t true

“Does chocolate milk come from brown cows?” I get a chuckle when kids ask that. But when 16 million adult Americans believe that’s true? Not so funny.

A Washington Post story that examined that apparently common misperception says many Americans are “agriculturally illiterate.” The article concludes that being ill-informed about food and farming has consequences — we may not eat well and we may not vote wisely.

I’m not the best person to advise you on your diet, but I do know a bit about public policy. I’m convinced that voters are unknowingly, intentionally exposed to “facts” about agriculture that simply aren’t true.

Corporations control farming. International trade hurts our economy. Farm subsidies drain the federal budget. All common allegations. All unfactual. The infographics below tell the real story. The American Farm Bureau has a lot more facts about food and farming. Two other great sources are fooddialogues.com or bestfoodfacts.org. A little time on these sites will provide some fresh perspective on food topics that matter.

Granted, it’s not really a big deal if some of us correlate milk flavor to cow color. But it is a big deal if you believe that agriculture is corporate, trade is bad and farmers live on the public dole. It’s a big deal if you think farmers regularly harm the environment, hurt their animals or grow terrible food. These topics affect your family, your community and your wallet. And bad information can lead to bad decisions when you vote.

That bad information isn’t out there by accident. People who don’t like the way farmers farm aren’t bashful about spreading their version of the “facts.” I ask only that you consider what farmers have to say, too.

Oh, by the way: it’s fresh, wholesome milk with cocoa and sugar. It’s great. And that’s a fact.

 

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Farm exports help the economy
In 2016, $135.5 billion worth of American agricultural products were exported around the globe. The top five customers accounted for 61 percent of all exports.

Canada and Mexico are two of the United States’ largest trading partners. Together, they account for $38.4 billion of U.S. agricultural exports.

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10-year federal spending, 2017-2027

 

Feature image: © Lithiumphoto | Dreamstime.com