Iowa Farm Bureau’s Market Study Tour returned last week, after a two-year hiatus, providing an in-depth look at farming in another country, revealing similarities and differences about agriculture.

Last week, 19 Iowa farmers spent eight days touring a diverse range of farms — from table-flat fields in England to rugged hills in Scotland. 

One of the common themes that emerged at every farm stop was that, just as in the United States, there is a growing disconnect between farming and the urban population in the United Kingdom. 

The general public there has specific views on how they think food should be raised, yet still wants cheap prices at the grocery store, said David Exwood, vice president of England’s National Farmers Union (NFU). There’s a general attitude that food will always be available no matter what kind of restrictions are placed on the country’s farmers, Exwood said.

“That policy went wrong for the first time this winter. There were empty shelves in the grocery stores,” he said.

Much like Farm Bureau, the NFU offers educational programs to teach school children about farming and food production. Also, one of the farms we visited hosts “Open Farm Sunday,” inviting the public to tour the farm and enjoy a day in the country.

Creating awareness of the role of agriculture in the economy and society is essential to building knowledge so citizens will support wise agricultural policies. That’s true, no matter which side of the ocean you’re on.