AmericanFarm.com

‘Virginia Farming’ has taken viewers into field for 15 years

By WHITNEY PIPKIN
AFP Correspondent

Harrisonburg, Va (July 18, 2017) — Many of the topics that come up on “Virginia Farming,” a public television show that airs throughout the state, nationally and online, are the same ones that come up at farmers’ dinner tables across the state.
Will this year’s weather make for a good wheat harvest? How are trade policies impacting beef exports?
But the show that’s been on the air for 15 years now aims to give viewers an even closer look at the industry.
In recent years, “we get into the field more rather than bringing people into the studio,” said Amy Roscher, co-host and production manager for the show with Jeff Ishee. “We really hope we can show viewers more that way, so they can see the farm families on their farms.”
Produced by WVPT, “Virginia Farming” reaches about 60,000 viewers each month and is distributed through 40 counties between Virginia, Maryland and Washington, D.C.
Nationally, the show airs on RFD-TV and episodes can be viewed online by visiting WVPT.net.
While the 30-minute episodes aim to help farmers do their jobs better by providing an overview of information that’s relevant to the industry, the show is also a service to consumers who might want to learn more about agriculture.
Each episode begins with Jeff Ishee summarizing industry news, including crop and weather reports, before delving deeper into a topic for a 10-minute “Ag Insights” portion of the program.
Topics range from the latest technology of robotic systems for milking cows to trends in the farm-to-table movement of which farmers should be aware.
A recent episode delved into what farmers — whose average age in the state is 58 years old — should know about millennials, the young people who represent a growing slice of the consumer pie.
“Society is putting more emphasis on it and a lot of people really want to know where their food comes from,” said Roscher.
That outreach component is one of the reasons the Virginia Farm Bureau has sponsored the show since its inception.
“Jeff’s show is certainly important to the farming community, because it’s geared to the working farmer and to staying abreast of things in the industry that are important to him,” said Greg Hicks, vice president of communications for the Virginia Farm Bureau. “It is the state’s only television program devoted solely to farmers.”
The state’s Farm Bureau also produces a separate show on agriculture called “Real Virginia” that’s geared toward consumers who want to learn more about the state’s products and how to use them.
“The mission is to remind Virginians of the importance of agriculture in their daily lives and to illustrate how food and farming are linked,” Hicks said.
“Real Virginia,” hosted by Sherri McKinney and also airing on PBS stations, RFD-TV and on YouTube, includes two farming segments along with cooking and gardening segments that feature products from Virginia — and some segments appear on both shows.
The shows, Hicks said, “have the same role: To promote the industry of agriculture and let people know why it’s important to them.”