Country living is on fire

I have just experienced one of those weekends that is worthwhile only because I now have another great story to tell.

On Friday and Saturday I spoke in Stanwood, Washington, and Sunday in Miami, Florida. It is actually quite the accomplishment in modern travel that I can get on a plane at 11 p.m. one night in the farthest northwest corner of the lower 48 and have breakfast the next morning in the farthest southeast corner of the nation. Modern travel is no different than the accomplishments in food production and should never be taken for granted.

So the real marvel about my trip to Washington state was the event I was so fortunate to be a part of. The 2018 Country Living Expo and Cattlemen’s Winterschool is unlike anything I have witnessed before. I have been a part of some great community celebrations but in this case the organizers have created an amazing opportunity for all who attend.

Around 1,325 people attended the Expo this year with 114 different teachers on the widest variety of topics imaginable from butchering rabbits to conducting necropsy on your own goat, chicken or sheep, to pressure canning to soil health. This annual event is hosted by Stanwood FFA and presented by Washington State University Livestock Master Foundation, Washington State University Extension and the Cattlemen’s Association.

It was a great mix of folks from those who have but a couple of acres and are trying to make a living with it to some of the local farmers who implement the latest in modern technology.

There was no doubt a varied thought process in folks who attended about such things as GMOs but I did not encounter anything but healthy dialogue about where we are and the paths of progress we can pursue.

What I have found in the past 20 years is that folks who want to get into the finger-pointing mode often simply don’t know folks with any opposing views. As I suggested in my own presentations, we must not continue to circle the agricultural wagons and shoot inward. We have an accelerated movement taking place from the food marketing entities that are establishing “sustainable” methods within their own supply chain, and they falsely believe they are somehow making progress in the movement.

We have millennials who have been hired to establish these “clean breaks to sustainability.” They somehow believe that by forcing the farmers who supply them to revert back to farming methods my grandfather abandoned in 1952 that they are making progress. They believe this because they have not met enough people who actually make a living sustainably in agriculture.

There is no one standard size or shape in modern-day farming methods that guarantees success and I contend that we must continue to embrace them all. I truly take my hat off to those who do not conform to the economies of scale in farming methods but as we move forward with food production, it comes down to answering one question: Are you making improvements in efficiency?

Are you producing more with less? That is the real question of “clean sustainably” that needs to be measured. Today it takes less than 1/3 of an acre to feed one person for a year, and 100 years ago it took 5 acres. If we do not grab ahold of this notion that food producers and not food marketers should be defining and driving the ship of sustainability, then all of our advancements in efficiency will be lost.

Events like the Country Living Expo certainly are a great endeavor in bridging the gap between food producers and consumers and more importantly between food producers with different approaches and philosophies. If we hope to overcome the divide and conquer approach that anti-ag activists are utilizing to destroy food production in this country, then it is essential that we host and take part in events that stimulate dialogue and build connections like the Country Living Expo in Washington.

Editor’s note: Trent Loos is a sixth generation United States farmer, host of the daily radio show, Loos Tales, and founder of Faces of Agriculture, a non-profit organization putting the human element back into the production of food. Get more information at, or email Trent at [email protected].