One of USFRA’s Faces of Farming & Ranching Emily Buck, Ph.D., who farms nearly 1,000 acres of corn and soybeans and raises Southdown sheep near Columbus, Ohio, recently served as a panelist at the Food Tank Summit in Washington D.C. With her panel focused on creating resiliency in food and agriculture, Emily explores some of these issues and her passion for agriculture more in depth below.
- What originally inspired you to get involved in your work?
I was born in a suburb of Columbus, Ohio to parents who had never been involved in agriculture. Then one day my Dad decided to move us to a farm and start raising livestock. The dichotomy in the experiences and understanding of food from my old friends to my new friends was amazing to me. I quickly understood at a young age there was a disconnect with how our food was produced and knew my life trajectory should work to shrink that
- What makes you continue to want to be involved in this kind of work?
More and more people today are interested in where food comes from and how it is produced. There is a lot of misinformation distributed online, and I think – for the livelihood of American farmers and our food supply – we must be willing to engage in that conversation. We as agriculturalists have a vested interest in food, and to continue developing ways to be efficient and sustainable, we must also be better at sharing.
- What do you see as the biggest opportunity to enhance the current food system?
One of the biggest opportunities we have is to help consumers better understand modern food production. If people understand how food can be raised using science to allow for more sustainable practices, they might be more welcoming to the variety of food on the market and not scared by marketing tactics. An educated consumer can also help in lessening the issues we have in the U.S. with food waste. Food choice is important, but we have to understand the qualities of all food production and not waste what is grown.
- Can you share a story about a food hero who inspired you?
One of my food heroes is actually Louis Bromfield. Mr. Bromfield was a writer and an important player in how we use conservation in farming. His books on how he took unproductive land and used smart techniques to build up the soil and the environment to start and maintain a thriving farm have always fascinated me. While you may not think of him at first when thinking food, he has made a major impact in how food is raised in gardens and on farms. I think his contributions to how we work with soil and water to raise food is an important lesson for us all.
- What’s the most pressing issue in food and agriculture that you’d like to see solved?
The acceptance of genetically engineered (GE) technology in crop production. I think it is important to have variety when it comes to food choice, and one of those is GE crops. By using GE crops on our farm, we are able to conserve the natural resources we have, not disrupt our soil more than necessary, use less pesticides and herbicides, and to weather out whatever Mother Nature gives us in a given year. I hope we can help consumers understand the value and safety of such technology in farming. Just as we use technology like cell phones and smart cars to improve the world around us, technology in our farming practices allows us to farm in a way that is immensely better for the world than our grandparents did 50 years ago.
Emily Buck, Ph.D., farms with her husband John and daughter on their 1,000 acres of no-till farmland near Columbus, Ohio in the Lake Erie and the Mississippi River watersheds. They farm corn, soybeans and a flock of 40 Southdown ewes. Emily is also an associate professor of agricultural communication at The Ohio State University and serves as one of the U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance’s (USFRA) Faces of Farming & Ranching.
All opinions expressed are the writer’s own. Funded by one or more checkoff programs.