By Kansas Farm Bureau Columnist John Schlageck
As the lights dimmed and the images flickered on the screen, the movie audience stepped into the lives of young farmers and ranchers as they took on the tasks of running their families’ operations. No wannabe Bogarts or Bacalls, just honest-to-goodness people who work the land.
The opening scene wasn’t on a sprawling lot somewhere outside of Hollywood. Instead James Moll filmed Farmland on farms and ranches from California to Pennsylvania.
Props included live cattle, hogs, chickens and vegetables, and acres of corn as far as the eye could see. Nothing staged, just everyday events on typical working farms and ranches across the country.
The private screening of Farmland in Kansas City April 1 was a joint effort between the Kansas Farm Food Connection, Agricultural Business Council of Kansas City and U.S . Farmers & Ranchers Alliance.
After the film aired, one movie goer commented on its authenticity.
The film is real, she said. These people brought the audience into their lives and showed them how farmers and ranchers work at a job like everyone else, although it may not be your typical eight to five. In this case, the farmers and ranchers work 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Another viewer said Farmland addressed many of the issues consumers and the general public wants to know – the film hit on everything.
It included stories about genetically modified food, organic, natural and traditional farming, no-till farming, a one-woman, first-generation vegetable farmer, multi-generational farms, use of hormones in cattle and hogs and chicken in large-scale facilities.
The farmers and ranchers wanted viewers to know they offer any kind of food the public is looking for, Lynne Hinrichsen, a former urbanite from Detroit who now works in Topeka, said after the showing. They’re giving customers a choice.
“I came away understanding these young producers are similar to the people who make cars where I grew up,” Hinrichsen said. “While auto workers make slightly different products with different designs, ultimately the vehicles they make are used for transportation. Farmers and ranchers provide us with our food. They’re all people.”
Osage County farmer/stockman Raylen Phelon called Farmland an inspirational movie that tells the truth about agriculture with no hype.
“The farmers and ranchers in this movie were just like me when I started out 30 years ago,” Phelon says. “They’re down-to-earth people who shared their hopes, fears and dreams.”
Phelon said the film lets consumers know farmers and ranchers care about the land, the animals, the grain, fruits and vegetables they produce.
“These young farm and ranch families knew what they were talking about and audiences will see this once they see their story,” he said.
In addition to the authenticity of Farmland, movie goers walked out of the theater with a sense of pride about the men, women and children who provide food for people of this state, country and world to eat.
Several viewers expressed the same feelings that coursed through my veins as Farmland unfolded before my eyes and ears:
“These are my people, my roots; this is who I am and where I came from.”
If you would like to have the movie shown in your town, go to www.farmlandfilm.com.
John Schlageck is a leading commentator on agriculture and rural Kansas. Born and raised on a diversified farm in northwestern Kansas, his writing reflects a lifetime of experience, knowledge and passion.