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"Well, as our population shifts more and more and more to urban because as farms consolidate, we need less people to be raising crops. Folks are getting farther and farther away from what food production really is. I'm afraid a lot of folks are losing touch with how important ag is and how important food production is and where do potatoes come from. My wife overheard some mother in the store a couple years ago telling her child potatoes came from a tree and you picked it off like fruit.
     "Now wait a minute! As a kid I helped plant potatoes and helped dig them so I figured that out. I didn't understand everything about it but I knew they were in the ground. So I think, as a society we've got to continue to work on this ag education thing. Explain to people where it comes from, why its important, why large farms are happening, why they're important to us, why irrigation is important.
     "We often hear in the news, and it's a correct figure, that agriculture is the single largest user of water in the world. Well, instantly somebody says, "If they're the largest user we need to cut them back. They're using too much." Well, wait a minute! That's our food. Let's be careful here. Let's use it wisely, but we can't do without it. And so that's a tough thing to get across to people that don't have any experience in rural areas…
     "The politics is changing. People's perception is changing.
     "And that comes to another interesting point. Other industries have been doing this for years. They produce what the consumer wants. If the consumer wants a pair of white jeans that's what they make. If they want blue jeans they make blue jeans. What ag has done for years is produce corn whether the consumer wants it or not. And we've got to change that attitude. Maybe they want a different type of corn. Maybe they want the genetically modified corn; maybe they want it that it's not genetically modified. Well, what does that particular consumer want? That's where the producer needs to head. And that's where they'll make a good living…
     "Maybe the folks out in the western part, central part of the state that are selling – what is it? – white corn to the Frito Lay plant at Gothenburg? That's pretty high quality stuff. Pretty high quality standards they have to meet in order to sell to Frito Lay. Yet they get paid premium price for it…
     "Lean meat sells [and it] ought to demand higher prices. These folks ought to figure out those niches and work towards them. So they're going to have to continually change. And when they get that figured out, the consumer will be on to the next thing and they'll have to change again."

John Turnbull – Consumer Preferences

   

Other Excerpts from John Turnbull’s Interview:

John in Vietnam
Anti-War Protests
Water Quality
Natural Resource Districts
Surface & Groundwater