Ag with Em
Howdy everyone! My name is Emily Lopata, and I am the 2021 Agriculture Literacy Summer Intern. During my time with the Cook County Farm Bureau, I will be writing the column Ag with Em! Agriculture has always been a prominent topic in my life. As a kid, I hoped to receive cows as birthday presents and get new chicks to add to the coop each spring. Though I do not live on a farm, I am able to have countless opportunities in agriculture on my grandma's farm in Rockton, IL. There, I am surrounded by a variety of farm animals, including my own cow named Lilly, which – you guessed it – was a birthday present when I was 12. Every year on the farm, we plant a huge garden with tomatoes, hot peppers, onions, and a wide variety of other vegetables. Of course, this is after our sap collecting and maple syrup making season has ended.
In addition to my exposure to agriculture on our family farm, I was also a member of 4-H and I now attend Illinois State University where I study Agriculture Business with a minor in Business Administration. Through my involvement with agriculture on the farm, at school, and in other agricultural clubs, I have noticed a similar concern expressed by students, faculty, and even by farmers themselves: a disconnection between farmers and the public. My desire to help resolve that issue has sparked my aspiration to spread agricultural awareness to everyone.
I know my involvement as an intern will allow me to share my passion with people in Cook County. While farmers make up just 1.3% of the employed US population, they play a vital role in our everyday lives by providing us with the food, fuel, and fiber that we use every single day. By connecting consumers and producers, we are benefited by knowing about the food we eat, where it comes from, and how it was grown. This understanding helps both parties make choices and allows us to recognize the strenuous task of farming. The future of agriculture relies on the involvement between the two groups to encourage growth.
With this goal in mind, some people may wonder how they can assist in growing widespread interest and knowledge about ag! The vast majority of farms in the United States are family owned and operated. When you shop locally at a farmers’ market, for instance, you have the opportunity to interact with the people who cultivated that product for you. This allows for a unique experience to engage with producers and learn about the products that you are eating. Taking the time to learn about the processes, goals, and even issues in agriculture can make consumers more informed. Once we all realize that our food must be grown, cared for, and harvested before it reaches the grocery store, we can begin to appreciate and support the difficult, yet necessary role of the farmer! We literally cannot survive without them!
I am eager to share my passion for agriculture with others in Cook County during my summer internship! I look forward to sharing valuable information and sparking excitement about the wonders of farming and all it provides for us!