What Does Your Farm Sign Say about YOU?
Mar 27, 2011
As I travel across the countryside this week skirting on the outer edge of Chicago, I was admiring the miles of farmsteads with a diverse of operations from livestock to row crop. While I was admiring the historical barns that have been well maintained or the acres of white fences, I saw several of the large livestock operation had boldly posted “NO TREPASSING” or “NO ENTRANCE” Billboards at the entrance of the farm. As a fellow livestock producer, I did not give the signs a second thought but to the thousands that travel the two-lane highways in and out Chicago what does the sign say?
In a collaborate effort from Illinois Commodity Groups, a recent survey of 2,000 Chicagoans asking for their views on farming found that more than 50 percent of respondents think that farms are corporately owned. How did they draw that conclusion? A two second drive by an agriculture field proudly displaying a company seed logo.
They assume the owner of farm is DeKalb, Pioneer, Stine, Mycogen, etc. contracting individual farmers to farm that land.
So what is the real meaning behind our farm signs?
If a livestock operation has a Restricted Area, No Trespassing, or No Entrance sign it is simple for the health and safety of the animals. Diseases can be carried by humans and humans' clothing. They are not just asking the urban neighbor not to enter the property but asking all not to enter without permission. A rancher can spread disease from one operation to another by dirty mud boats. The signs do not mean we have secrets in the closet or trying real hard to hide something. The health of the livestock is the first priority and safeguard measures have been established.
Similar the seed signs are not sign of ownership; it provides information to other farmers on the seed planted in that particular field. It strictly advertisement similar to the billboards attracting travelers to a gas station or restaurant.
Should we take down the Signs?
To my colleagues, I am not suggesting a radical action of tearing down all the signs. It is your valuable property right to place any sign on your property you see fit. Yet, I challenge you to tell your agriculture story. Share the human side of agriculture. The same drive-by, quick to jump to conclusion individuals are the same people gathering information about their food on the worldwide web in instant. They are heavily engaged on
[Twitter], [Facebook], and [Blogs]. So opening the door whether it is online or in person into our agriculture world can only aid in improving a better understanding the practices of the farmer.