Most people know what a farmer is, but how many people really understand what a farmer does? Thanks to the “Ask a Farmer” program at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C., visitors can learn more about the history of food and agriculture in America.
John Deere is a sponsor of the program, which brings visitors together with American farmers for conversations about agriculture. Farmers from around the country connect with the museum through live video feeds and staff members facilitate questions and conversations with participants.
Visitor questions range from basics about farming, sustainability, and federal regulation to the role of the family on a family farm. Participating farmers to date include a cattle rancher, a soybean farmer, and a grain farmer.
“We are pleased to support this program, which helps museum visitors understand how farming works, and the challenges that farmers address daily in their quest to feed the world’s growing population,” said Neil Dahlstrom, manager, archives and history.
Bill Beam, from Beam Farms in Elverson, Pa., participated in a live video chat at the museum in August, with 60 visitors. Beam Farms, which originated from a 1740 William Penn land grant, grows soybeans, corn, wheat, and hay.
Beam’s appearance on the “Ask a Farmer” video chat occurred during a week when soybean and commodity crop prices were fluctuating wildly on the global markets. A visitor asked about the impact of those prices on Beam Farms. Beam told the audience that he did the math on the worst day that week, and said his farm lost the equivalent of $80,000 in one day, but added that he tries not to think about it, otherwise, he will “go crazy.”
John Gray, director of the Museum of American History, expressed his thanks for Deere & Company’s support of the ‘Ask a Farmer’ program. “Our expanded focus on the history of agriculture would not be possible without John Deere’s generous support of our efforts. Addressing current economic issues through a personal lens helps bring these stories to life for our visitors,” Gray said.