foundation of Montana's economy is under siege.
As if it's not tough enough to
raise a profitable crop or herd each year --
especially during drought -- the state's farmers
and ranchers face assault on the political and
public relations fronts as well.
Trade policies, federal politics
and the ever-shifting demands of consumers are
The ag community can respond by
hunkering down and hoping to survive.
Or it can follow the lead of two
buses heading out of Great Falls this week.
In a "Farm to Table"
tour, local ag groups brought teachers,
politicians and others out to the country for a
close-up look at how the industry works.
"We just want people to
understand the true picture of
agriculture," said Montana Farmers Union
Vice President Diana Adamson.
"I think they need to
understand that you don't just buy something off
the (grocery store) shelf and there it is."
We've long advocated on these
pages the need for such education.
That becomes especially
important, as the industry grows more complex.
Federal farm policies and
payouts are increasingly baffling to people not
in the industry.
Add in the mysteries of such
technology as irradiation and the contradictory
information about genetically altered food, and
it's not surprising that consumers are confused.
Education is key to helping
consumers understand -- and hopefully support --
agriculture in Montana.
The tour sponsored by the
Farmers Union and the Montana Wheat and Barley
Committee is a good start.
We encourage similar efforts
from other farm and ranch organizations.
Further, we'd recommend that
they try to reach beyond the borders of Montana,
where ag is pretty well recognized as the
They may not end the siege, but
they could give agriculture in Montana a