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News & Media: Staff Columns

Why we keep showing up to work

Friday, March 15, 2019   (0 Comments)
Posted by: John Holevoet, director of government affairs
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In February, I had the honor of representing Edge at the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives (NCFC) annual meeting in Arizona. Edge joined NCFC over three years ago and we have really benefited from our partnership.

NCFC represents farmer cooperatives of all sizes across the country. They also have members that deal with almost every agricultural commodity you can think of. While there are some issues that do not overlap between the diverse members that make up this organization, there is a lot that unites us. A peach farmer from California might not sound like an automatic partner in policy, but they care just as much about trade and labor as Midwestern dairy farmers do.

We’re also all concerned about the perception of agriculture by the broader public, which is becoming more removed from their agricultural heritage each day. Talking about the future of agriculture in a hotel ballroom with staff and farmers representing cooperatives that produce a huge portion of the nation’s food is a conversation worth having. It is important that Edge is part of that conversation. What we do matters, and I received a clear reminder of that later during my trip.

The conference ended on Friday afternoon and I decided to stay out in Arizona through the weekend on my own dime. My first stop was Biosphere 2. In case the name does not ring a bell right away, this was a self-contained biome created under glass in the Arizona desert. Starting in 1991, two different research teams were locked up in this big greenhouse with different climate zones. The idea was for them to be self-sufficient while conducting scientific research.

The facility still exists and is managed by Arizona State University, which conducts ongoing research there. However, it is no longer self-contained. Researchers come and go. That is because one of the lessons learned from the first two missions was that very little research ever happened because the crew spent almost all their time trying to grow enough food to live.

This is a good reminder for anyone working in agriculture. The work of the small portion of the population that farms gives the rest of us the freedom to just live. Without farmers, most of what we take for granted about society just wouldn’t work. This does not get us off the hook when it comes to helping to make sure the public understands what farmers do and why they matter, but it should give us a powerful talking point. The freedom to choose our own profession, have a family, live where we want (including in a desert like Arizona) all are thanks to our nation’s farmers.

Hearing about the Biosphere 2 crews struggles was just one more reminder why our work supporting farmers and agriculture matters. So, we’re happy to keep showing up on your behalf and we’re awfully grateful that you keep farming on ours.  

As always, reach out to me with comments or questions at

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