Ron de Yong: Diversity is key for future of agriculture | TSLN.com

Ron de Yong: Diversity is key for future of agriculture

Bill Brewster

Photo by Bill BrewsterRon de Yong, director, Montana Department of Agriculture.

In today’s rapidly changing landscape, segments of the agricultural production system are moving towards greater diversity on farms and ranches. That’s the opinion of Ron de Yong, the director of the Montana Department of Agriculture.

The director was the keynote speaker during the Montana Livestock and Horse Forum evening dinner program on Jan. 29 at the Red Lion Colonial Inn in Helena, MT.

While speaking to state youth development extension agents, 4-H leaders and youth members, de Yong said diversity of agricultural operations will be the key for “agriculture to feed the world in the future.”

The speaker explained that the diverse projects he experienced as a boy in 4-H had expanded his interests in many new areas, which he continues to follow today.

“That diversity helped me when I was actively working on the farm that I purchased from my parents,” he said. “And that diversity continued to help me when I was teaching agricultural policy and economics at Cal Poly State University and it is helping me now as Montana’s Director of the Department of Agriculture,” de Yong said.

For years, he said, the ag industry had followed the trend where production has focused on raising as much raw product as possible in the least expensive way. At the same time, products are being shipped long distances to be processed, only to be shipped long distances before being purchased by the consumer.

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“Large corporations earn most of the profit in this system, and it can be hard for farmers and ranchers to earn a living with this system of commodity-based agriculture,” he noted.

De Yong thinks the industry is transitioning to an alternative food system today that will not replace the old system, but will exist alongside of the traditional, commercial system.

“The new parallel system focuses on quality rather than quantity, and it focuses on a fair price to the producers rather than the cheapest price. This alternative system produces, processes and distributes local food for local consumption,” he explained.

“If you have sold a market animal at the fair and it was purchased by a local business and slaughtered by a local butcher, you already have experience with one form of this new system,” he said. “I bet you made a lot more money on that animal than your parents do when they sell through the traditional commercial system.”

He said the transition is happening in many locations other than Montana, and the trend will evolve into a successful strategy to help feed the world in the future. There are several reasons why the transition is taking place today on the farm and in the market place.

For one, he said, there are major problems with obesity and diabetes.

“Solving these problems,” he said, “requires a major focus on quality food rather than quantity and empty calories.”

He said personal computers now allow many connections between producers and consumers instead of having the network dominated by large corporations.

In addition, shipping products long distances has become increasingly more expensive and there is more concern about carbon footprints with the traditional production model.

In today’s rapidly changing landscape, segments of the agricultural production system are moving towards greater diversity on farms and ranches. That’s the opinion of Ron de Yong, the director of the Montana Department of Agriculture.

The director was the keynote speaker during the Montana Livestock and Horse Forum evening dinner program on Jan. 29 at the Red Lion Colonial Inn in Helena, MT.

While speaking to state youth development extension agents, 4-H leaders and youth members, de Yong said diversity of agricultural operations will be the key for “agriculture to feed the world in the future.”

The speaker explained that the diverse projects he experienced as a boy in 4-H had expanded his interests in many new areas, which he continues to follow today.

“That diversity helped me when I was actively working on the farm that I purchased from my parents,” he said. “And that diversity continued to help me when I was teaching agricultural policy and economics at Cal Poly State University and it is helping me now as Montana’s Director of the Department of Agriculture,” de Yong said.

For years, he said, the ag industry had followed the trend where production has focused on raising as much raw product as possible in the least expensive way. At the same time, products are being shipped long distances to be processed, only to be shipped long distances before being purchased by the consumer.

“Large corporations earn most of the profit in this system, and it can be hard for farmers and ranchers to earn a living with this system of commodity-based agriculture,” he noted.

De Yong thinks the industry is transitioning to an alternative food system today that will not replace the old system, but will exist alongside of the traditional, commercial system.

“The new parallel system focuses on quality rather than quantity, and it focuses on a fair price to the producers rather than the cheapest price. This alternative system produces, processes and distributes local food for local consumption,” he explained.

“If you have sold a market animal at the fair and it was purchased by a local business and slaughtered by a local butcher, you already have experience with one form of this new system,” he said. “I bet you made a lot more money on that animal than your parents do when they sell through the traditional commercial system.”

He said the transition is happening in many locations other than Montana, and the trend will evolve into a successful strategy to help feed the world in the future. There are several reasons why the transition is taking place today on the farm and in the market place.

For one, he said, there are major problems with obesity and diabetes.

“Solving these problems,” he said, “requires a major focus on quality food rather than quantity and empty calories.”

He said personal computers now allow many connections between producers and consumers instead of having the network dominated by large corporations.

In addition, shipping products long distances has become increasingly more expensive and there is more concern about carbon footprints with the traditional production model.

In today’s rapidly changing landscape, segments of the agricultural production system are moving towards greater diversity on farms and ranches. That’s the opinion of Ron de Yong, the director of the Montana Department of Agriculture.

The director was the keynote speaker during the Montana Livestock and Horse Forum evening dinner program on Jan. 29 at the Red Lion Colonial Inn in Helena, MT.

While speaking to state youth development extension agents, 4-H leaders and youth members, de Yong said diversity of agricultural operations will be the key for “agriculture to feed the world in the future.”

The speaker explained that the diverse projects he experienced as a boy in 4-H had expanded his interests in many new areas, which he continues to follow today.

“That diversity helped me when I was actively working on the farm that I purchased from my parents,” he said. “And that diversity continued to help me when I was teaching agricultural policy and economics at Cal Poly State University and it is helping me now as Montana’s Director of the Department of Agriculture,” de Yong said.

For years, he said, the ag industry had followed the trend where production has focused on raising as much raw product as possible in the least expensive way. At the same time, products are being shipped long distances to be processed, only to be shipped long distances before being purchased by the consumer.

“Large corporations earn most of the profit in this system, and it can be hard for farmers and ranchers to earn a living with this system of commodity-based agriculture,” he noted.

De Yong thinks the industry is transitioning to an alternative food system today that will not replace the old system, but will exist alongside of the traditional, commercial system.

“The new parallel system focuses on quality rather than quantity, and it focuses on a fair price to the producers rather than the cheapest price. This alternative system produces, processes and distributes local food for local consumption,” he explained.

“If you have sold a market animal at the fair and it was purchased by a local business and slaughtered by a local butcher, you already have experience with one form of this new system,” he said. “I bet you made a lot more money on that animal than your parents do when they sell through the traditional commercial system.”

He said the transition is happening in many locations other than Montana, and the trend will evolve into a successful strategy to help feed the world in the future. There are several reasons why the transition is taking place today on the farm and in the market place.

For one, he said, there are major problems with obesity and diabetes.

“Solving these problems,” he said, “requires a major focus on quality food rather than quantity and empty calories.”

He said personal computers now allow many connections between producers and consumers instead of having the network dominated by large corporations.

In addition, shipping products long distances has become increasingly more expensive and there is more concern about carbon footprints with the traditional production model.

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