PBS program will present both sides of food-production story

Every story has two sides. Sometimes more.

May 5, Kansans will have an opportunity to see and hear about the care, dedication and passion family farmers and ranchers have for producing safe and affordable food.

On this date at 9 p.m., public television stations in Kansas will air a panel discussion called, ?Taking Stock: Perspec?tives on Food Production in Kansas.?

Panelists include various leaders on the subject of food product in Kansas including Kansas Farm Bureau President Steve Baccus, a grain farmer from Ottawa County.

This panel discussion program is a response to the April 21 airing by the Public Broad?casting Service (PBS) of the controversial documentary, Food Inc. The film is critical of the American food production system and garnered new attention when nominated for an Academy Award for best documentary.

The general theme of the film is: The food industry doesn?t want you to know the truth about what you are eating because if you knew, you wouldn?t eat it.

The documentary paints an unfair and incomplete picture of the American food system, including farmers and ranchers. It provides one filmmaker?s point of view and one that does not represent most farmers, ranchers and the folks who live in rural communities across Kansas.

As part of the upcoming ?Taking Stock? program, Baccus will represent mainstream agriculture and several generations of farmers and ranchers across Kansas. Glad to have this opportunity, Baccus commends KTWU, Topeka for assembling a diverse group to weigh in on the issue of food production.

?At the end of the day, consumers across Kansas and this country should have piece of mind regarding the food they eat each day,? Baccus says. ?We have a food processing industry in the United States that has given us the safest, most affordable food in the entire world.?

The farmer?s creed has always been to nurture the land, improving it while coaxing forth a bountiful harvest of food for all of us. Farmers hold enduring respect for the land that sustains them.

Because of the farmer?s ingenuity and stewardship ethic, the United States and Kansas lead the world in food quality, variety and affordability. Advances in crop production enhance the farmer?s natural commitment to stewardship.

These innovations allow farmers to harvest larger yields from fewer acres, in harmony with their environment.

At the same time, farmers and ranchers adhere to sound principles of animal husbandry and provide the best care for their livestock. They look after their animals first thing in the morning and the last thing in the evening.

Today?s animal husbandry is no accident. Farmers and ranchers go beyond their role of humane guardians and show devoted concern for their animals health and safety.

They work hard, long hours to care for and nurture their livestock. Farmers and ranchers are neither cruel nor naive.

They want to produce healthy animals that will one day feed others. In fact, they feed their own families from the livestock and crops they produce.

Today, many consumers are unaware of a farmer and rancher?s relationship with the crops they grow and the animals they care for. They don?t know how meat, milk, eggs, wheat, vegetables and other food products wind up on their dinner table. Few know all that goes into caring, feeding and nurturing of livestock and crops that goes on across Kansas.

Farmers and ranchers continue to adapt and change to meet the needs of consumers today. Crop and livestock producers, including Baccus, will tell you consumers drive this whole food picture today.

?On my farm, I change what I plant based on what consumers want,? he says. ?It?s all about giving the people what they want. Our entire food industry has changed to meet consumer demand.?

That said, today?s consumers should continue to regard the profession of farming and ranching highly, and embrace a quality, abundant food source they value second to none.

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