At Fair Oaks Farms near Rensselaer another attraction is now open, and it brought out officials not only from Indiana, but U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack too. He was there as the WinField Crop Adventure at Fair Oaks Farms was unveiled, another interactive experience that shows the role of modern technology in raising crops.
“Sometimes we’re a bit too humble about what we do on the farm,” Vilsack said from Fair Oaks Wednesday. “I’m hopeful that with things like the WinField center here that Land O’Lakes is promoting, what we’re doing at Fair Oaks to educate people about what agriculture is and what it does and how important it is to our life, the work that Farm Bureau is doing with their Ag in the Classroom, the dairy farmers of this country with their Fuel up to Play 60 program with the NFL, all of that’s designed to give people a better sense of what agriculture is doing. And this is an incredibly exciting time for agriculture. The innovation is phenomenal with precision agriculture and some of the great work we’re going to see improving crop production.”
Dr. Michael McCloskey, Fair Oaks Farms Co-Founder, said this latest addition to the plan hatched in the late 90’s furthers the goal of farmers telling their own story to the 98% of Americans not involved in agriculture.
“The stories that were being told about agriculture were really not our stories,” he said. “Some was because of misinformation and others because of intent, but they weren’t the right stories and we also felt a great need of that 98% to want to understand where their food was coming from, and they were depending on whatever information they could get to do that. Sometimes a lot of misinformation had been put out there, so we felt it was important. It was scary.”
But from a scary idea the plan has evolved into millions of visitors learning about dairy, pigs, and now crops, and enjoying delicious farm grown food while visiting.
Land O’Lakes President and Chief Executive Officer Chris Policinski attended the events surrounding the opening Wednesday, proud that his company is involved in the project.
“Land O’Lakes is a farmer-owned organization and we are one of the few organizations in the country that really does see every day this great system of food and agriculture from end to end, from farm to fork. We have our branded dairy product business. We own Purina Animal Feeds, and we own WinField Solutions crop inputs that shows farmers how to grow things. And from that perch we’ve seen what Mike and Secretary Vilsack describe. More consumers want to know more about where their food comes from, and that’s great. That’s fantastic, and that’s a terrific opportunity for agriculture to tell its story.”
The WinField Crop Adventure is now open to the public at Fair Oaks Farms about 90 minutes north of Indianapolis right on Interstate 65.