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March 18, 2013   Email to Friend 

Melissa Martin
(334) 612-5448
March 18, 2013

The Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History is looking to the public to record and preserve the innovations and experiences of farming and ranching.

In partnership with the American Farm Bureau Federation and other organizations, the museum is seeking to build the image of modern agriculture through personal stories, photos, and ephemera. Agriculture has changed considerably, and this initiative is a way for all Americans to explore and appreciate this area of a shared experience.

As part of National Agriculture Day on March 19, the museum will unveil a new web portal where the public can upload their stories about technologies and innovation that have changed their work and daily lives; stories about precision farming, traceability, environmental concerns and governmental practices, irrigation, biotechnology and hybrid seeds.

Farmers and other persons interested in participating are asked to consider the following:

  • Technology – What is the role of technology in modern American farming? How has GPS and precision farming changed the way you work? Do you have photos or stories about how things have changed?
  • Biotechnology – What has biotechnology and new hybrids meant to American farmers? Curators would like to hear stories and obtain photographs of “walking the beans,” detasseling corn, selecting seeds, and other such experiences.
  • Debt – As production has gotten more efficient, farms have gotten bigger and more technologically dependent. The museum’s curators would like to document how land is bought and agriculture is financed. From the farm crisis
    auctions of the 1980s, to crop insurance, or just buying seed, there are many interesting stories to tell and poignant photos to share.
  • Environment – Concerns about the environmental effects of farming and ranching along with scientific research into new procedures and equipment has fundamentally changed American farming. Tell the story of how environmental concerns, technological innovation and governmental practices have changed your way of life.
  • Competition – Many people point out that marketing is the American farmer’s greatest challenge. Today’s tractor cab is often like a seat on the commodity exchange with farmers selling, hedging, and trying to profit from their crops. How does it work for you?
  • Food Safety – Today traceability and food safety are at the forefront of public interest. Innovations in tracking and monitoring continue to make the American food supply one of the safest in the world. Have you done anything
    new and experimental?
  • Animals – Poultry, cattle, pigs and other animal production has always been important to American agriculture but the face of raising animals has changed dramatically. Has your life been effected by new techniques in animal production? Do you raise animals today? How does it differ from 30 years ago?
  • Water – Irrigation has always been important to western farmers but with climate change and growing demands on dwindling water supplies new ideas about efficient irrigation are making a difference. Do you irrigate? Has your attitude towards water changed?
  • Labor – Ranch hands, migrant workers, and the help of family members once provided much of the labor to raise and harvest crops. Today sophisticated machinery and herbicides resistant plants have changed the nature of the enterprise. How has your life changed? Do you miss the old days?
For more information, visit http://americanenterprise.si.edu/introduction/agricultural-innovation-and-experience-project/

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