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Texas cattleman promotes role in 'Farmland' documentary

Progressive Cattleman intern Cassidy Woolsey Published on 23 May 2014
Texas cattleman Brad Bellah

Texas cattleman Brad Bellah shares his ranching story with people across the country in the new documentary film "Farmland." Throughout this summer the film will premiere in select theaters across the country, hoping to spark conversation between consumers and producers.

Unlike previous agriculture films, "Farmland" is created through the perspective of farmers and ranchers. The film follows the lives of six young ag producers in their 20s – all responsible for running their own operation.

Bellah was asked to participate in the film by the Academy Award-winning documentary director James Moll because of his sixth-generation cattle business in Texas and Colorado.

"I was skeptical at first," Bellah said. "I wanted to share my story, which is the story of most 20-something-year-old cattle ranchers. But I didn’t want it to get flipped and turned into something ugly."

After further research and the help of friends and family, Bellah agreed to be featured in the film.

"I realized after turning on the news every night, any bit of information on food or food production is skewed. It aggravates me. There is so much taken out of context and so much misinformation that the average consumer doesn’t know what to believe. I wanted to set it straight and show ranching from the rancher’s perspective," Bellah said.

Some media reviews have been critical of the film, alleging a pro-ag bias. Sponsored by the U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance, "Farmland" has led some critics to wonder if it was merely an advertisement for the farmer and rancher-led organization.

Lisa Cassady, internal communications manager for U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance, said the organization wanted to create a new way to show consumers how their food is produced and answer some of the common questions asked of farmers and ranchers. Their goal was to make sure the film was unbiased and they gave Moll the freedom to create the film, she said.

"Farmland" goes behind the scenes of Bellah’s family cattle operation consisting of registered and commercial Angus, an all-natural herd and stocker cattle. It gives a firsthand glimpse of the struggles, challenges and rewards that come from farming and ranching. It shows the passion and responsibility handed down from generation to generation.

"I am really happy with what I do. I enjoy getting to see my hard work pay off regularly," Bellah said.

Already more than 100 screenings have taken place, with more coming in June and July. Some colleges and schools are adding the film to their curriculum for 2015. Cassady said the film will be available for viewing on Netflix later this summer.

"I hope the film encourages everyone, consumers, farmers and ranchers to speak with each other. A lot of conversations about food farmers and ranchers haven’t been invited to," Bellah said. "Ask us questions; we need to step up and be open because we don’t have anything to hide."

Matt Hargreaves, communications director for the Utah Farm Bureau Federation, had the opportunity to see the film and was overall pleased with what he saw.

"I am confident this film will get messages out there if people are willing and open-minded,” Hargreaves said. “I think it is a fair and good representation of what farmers and ranchers go through every day."

Bellah said he has enjoyed his experience participating in "Farmland" and is glad he decided to be featured in the film. He learned a lot about other farming operations and realized that farmers and ranchers have a lot in common. 

"The filming may be over, but I hope this is just the beginning of 'Farmland.' I want to talk to anyone with a question," Bellah said. 

Watch the "Farmland" movie trailer at the official website.  end mark