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3 Open Minutes with David Loberg & James Moll

Progressive Dairyman Editor Walt Cooley Published on 06 May 2014

This month a new feature-length cinematic documentary about six young farmers and ranchers from around the country, Farmland, will open in U.S. theaters.

The movie was produced by Allentown Productions with financial support from the U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance. Progressive Dairyman Editor Walt Cooley spoke with the film’s director James Moll and one of the movie’s real-life farmers, David Loberg of Carroll, Nebraska.




David, tell me a little bit about your operation and what ties you have to the dairy industry.

david loberg

LOBERG: We are corn and soybean growers. In addition to that, we do feed just fewer than 500 head of replacements for a local 3,000-cow dairy. We’ve been feeding them for this dairy for about nine years.

Also, my grandpa on my mom’s side milked 100 head until the day he passed away. When I went to my grandpa’s house when I was younger, I would always go down to the milk barn and watch him milk cows or help in any way I could.


We always got farm-fresh whole milk when we went there, and I enjoyed it. That’s just one of those memories from growing up that not everyone gets to have.


How long were the cameras with you during filming?

LOBERG: I believe they visited our farm six times for one or two days during the past year.


Why did you agree to participate?


It used to be everyone knew a farmer. We’re getting to the point now that some people are two or three generations removed from knowing a farmer. They may have not set foot on a farm or even talked to a farmer in their life. With this in mind, farmers are becoming more and more of a minority and developing our voice as a farmer to share what we do and why we do it is becoming more important.

Providing information to people about what we do, why we do it, and our side of the story is one of my main goals. Participating in this film brought an opportunity to the table for me to share my story to the public.


What’s the overall message an audience will take away from the film?

james moll

MOLL: I’m hoping that people will watch this film and come away with the same feeling I did myself in making the film, which is, “I now know a few farmers.” I grew up in a city. I’d never set foot on a farm, but now I’ve had that opportunity.

I wondered who was growing our food and I now know. If other people can come away from this film feeling that they’ve now set foot on a farm, then I’ll feel really good about it.


The film purports to take an intimate look at the lives of farmers. Can you tell us some scenes that you think portray that intimacy?

MOLL: We showed up on the farms just to follow everybody around, saying, “OK, just do your thing. Just act natural.” And that’s a tough thing to do for anyone, even if you’re a professional, to pretend or forget that cameras are there. So in saying it’s an intimate look, we’re really talking about getting an opportunity to basically hang out with them and their families while they do what they do in their professional and personal lives.


Even though a dairyman is not portrayed in the movie, why do you feel that what is presented in the film is representative of all farmers?

LOBERG: Just like most dairy farms, we are a family-run operation as well. Running a farm is something that takes great passion, which is echoed throughout the whole movie by each of the farmers. Also, dairy farmers are in a risky business, just like other farmers.

I mean, how much money does a dairy have tied up in hay and various other feedstuffs and cows? A dairy farmer doesn’t quite know what the milk price is going to be. There are high and low swings. A dairy is just as stressful as any farming operation, and possibly a little more so than average.


What do you think is the distribution potential of this film?

MOLL: This film has massive distribution potential worldwide. OK, that was a little bit of sarcasm.

When someone asked me, “What audience did you make the film for?” I said, “I made the film for people who eat.” I really do see this as a film that everyone will find interesting. People want to know where their food is coming from, so I do think it has very good distribution potential. Fingers crossed!


Why do you think it’s important to tell the stories of young farmers? What makes them unique?

LOBERG: We are the farmers who will be growing the crops and food for the country in the future. Consumers need to get to know us.

The next generation of farmers are willing to speak up and tell their story. It is important for consumers to understand where their food is coming from and how it is grown. The film has given me that opportunity to tell people about my operation and our family’s story.


So what myths do you think this movie will debunk for consumers?

LOBERG: I don’t know that we’re really trying to debunk any myths. When we first started this filming, I almost thought it was going to be a how-to documentary on how to farm. But as I watch it now, I see it’s evolved into getting to meet a farmer. We’re not really trying to attack anything or push some angle, which I love.

That’s half the problem anymore. As soon as you try and attack something or prove something, you’re rejected just because you’re trying to force something upon someone. In this film, you are truly allowed to sit and watch six farmers on everything they do and how they raise the food that we eat and you just get to know them.


Why would you recommend one of your other farmer friends see this movie?

LOBERG: Just so they can join in the discussion that it will start about farmers and food production. We’re just six farmers out of the thousands in this country. Every farmer has something different and something more to contribute to the conversation. Go out, see it and join us. Get in the mix. PD

Visit the website to locate a theater near you where Farmland will be playing, to watch its trailer or for additional information about the film and the farmers featured.

walt cooley

Walt Cooley
Progressive Dairyman