Monday, July 2, 2012

Stand Up and Speak Out!!

She wore jeans and boots to school everyday and was made fun of. She worked hard at home on the farm and was criticized for it. She stood up for her beliefs, passions, and dreams-and was completely disregarded. She came home one day to find her car, home, and concrete cow yard ornament vandalized. And she still wants to do the right thing.

I was angered, saddened and shocked to hear this story and sympathized with this fellow young cattle producer who was treated harshly and ridiculed for her love and lifestyle. But it was a resounding reminder that not only are there people among us who don't understand what farm families do to provide for this nation, but they can even be abusive and violent because they disagree with what we do.

This past weekend I had the distinct honor and privilege of leading a group of young cattlemen and women at the MJCA Show-Me Beef Leadership Conference. The focus of the conference was being an Agvocate and defending and promoting agriculture to friends and consumers. Participants were given tips on how to use social media, face-to-face opportunities and the internet to share the story of agriculture as well as how to interact and connect with consumers. It was stressed over and over the importance of being proactive and taking the initiative to reach out and educate the public about what we do and how we care for our livestock. It was rewarding and exciting to hear and 8th grader say he wanted to continue to learn more about how to reach out to his friends. And the young lady who was ridiculed through high school-she still wants to reach out to her classmates and help them see the truth!
Feeding Santa Gertrudis steers
The issue of uneducated consumers and the topic of being an advocate for agriculture has been pretty heavy the last couple years, however as producers, we have still become very lax in our approach to being the ones to tell the story instead of constantly defending what we do. The battle in which we find ourselves with not only animal rights activists and organizations, but simply uneducated consumers, is one that will not end soon-if ever. And it is getting more intense as time goes on.

The quote "If not me, who. If not now, when?" struck a chord with me this weekend. We can't continue relying on others to tell our story and just do our job without connecting with consumers. Agriculturalists have to take action NOW and be the ones to tell the story-our story.

So please join me in becoming active in educating. Whether it's creating a video for youtube showing you caring for your animals everyday, keeping a blog that shows the emotion and dedication to give to ensure safe and healthy food is produced, writing letters to the editor and politicians or just talking to a customer in the grocery story about how meat, milk and eggs are produced, we can all take part, and we NEED to take part in telling the story and revealing the truth!!!

Now, I will turn this around...

Consumers-we are at fault for not keeping open lines of communication about farming and how we raise livestock and crops. We want to tell you how and why we do it, we want you to understand, and we want you to feel safe about what you eat. So, in order to help us educate and give you a peace of mind, please comment by telling us what you want to know and how we can help you made quality decisions about your food. What questions do you have about beef production? What do you want to know about how corn and tomatoes are raised? What would you like explained about raising pork and poultry?

If you ask, we'll answer!!!!!

Until next time, you can find me off the beaten path and ridin for the brand!!

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