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When Wichita mayor Carl Brewer recently said that his city was sophisticated and maybe not the rural, farming industry and things of that nature, he quickly found out just how sophisticated and responsive the agriculture community is. Sedgwick County Farm Bureau President Kent Winter wrote a response to the mayor’s comments that was printed in the Wichita Eagle newspaper. Winter correctly pointed out that by using a sophisticated array of technology, equipment and infrastructure, one U.S. farmer now feeds 155 people and American households spend far less for food than people in other countries. Winter also pointed out that a farmer’s work includes engineering, manufacturing and agronomics as well as dealing with hedges, futures and insurance considerations. That sounds pretty sophisticated to me. The mayor’s comments, whether he meant them to be or not, were more stereotypical than sophisticated. Mayor Brewer has since admitted to a poor choice of words and has publicly stated his respect for farmers and their contributions. While I suspect he realized the political damage his comments might have, I hope he also realized the greater public image damage these types of comments have. The challenge of educating consumers about how their food is produced is hard enough without comments like these from a public official of a rural community. Thankfully Kent Winter did not stay silent. His response is a good example for the rest of agriculture on how to show its sophistication.
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