“Farmers Fight… Farmers Fight…”

Rincker Law Ag-vocacy, Conferences and Meetings, Food & Ag Organizations, Food & Ag Policy 1 Comment

“Fight! Fight! Farmers, Farmers Fight!”

If you have ever been to a Texas A & M football game, you have most likely heard this “yell” followed by a “Whooop!” (Please note that Aggies don’t “cheer”- we have “yell” leaders in Aggieland).  If you didn’t know, I’m a proud Fightin’ Texas Aggie and have very fond memories saying this yell while watching the Ags play football (for the record, the Ags never lose… “we just run out of time”).  

I was re-reading an editorial from Capital Press published on January 23rd (and reprinted with permission by the American Farm Bureau Federation’s (“AFBF”) FBNews on February 22, 2010) titled “It’s time for farmers to tell agriculture’s story.”  The editorial began with a quote from Mary Lease to her audience in Halstead, Kansas during her campaign of 1890:  “What you farmers need to do is raise less corn and more hell.” 

This quote reminded me of the motivating speech last fall in Albany from Kay Johnson Smith from Animal Agriculture Alliance (@AnimalAg) encouraging everyone involved in agriculture to be an “activist.”  Last February, I was a panelist at the Sigma Alpha/Alpha Gamma Rho leadership conference.  A  young college aged man asked the panel about how those involved in agriculture can protect our image to the American public.  I responded saying that I believe it is critically important for every person who makes a living from the agriculture industry to do something to help preserve its future and public image. 

I offer the following suggestions to put up your own “farmers fight” against the misinformed public view on American agriculture:

1.  Be Aware That You Represent the Agriculture Industry 24/7/365.  Similar to how an employee represents its employer every day of the week, those involved in this agriculture business represents the industry as a whole.  Be cognizant of that fact when you are on airplanes, in grocery stores, at little league ball games, at church, or the neighborhood saloon.   

2.  Talk to Your Neighbor.  It’s amazing how many times I’ve had conversations with people here in NYC about our food and fiber industry.  I made talking to more New Yorkers about agriculture one of my “agvocacy” goals for 2010.  I think I might take Chelsea Good’s advice to use some sticky notes for weekly goals.  Even in rural communities, it is amazing how many people don’t truly understand production agriculture.  When possible, take the opportunity to strike up a conversation with someone in your community to help educate him or her on what your family does for a living.      

3.  Serve Your Community.  Most people say that there are two ways people vote — on election day and each time they spend a dollar.  I would argue that the third way to “vote” on what is important to you is how you spend your time.  Help feed the hungry or “adopt-a-highway.”  Offer to ump a t-ball game or sit on your local zoning board.  We need those in the agriculture industry to help be community leaders and servants.  I believe this is a powerful way to help put agriculture in a positive light in local communities.

4.  Support Those Organizations that Lobby For Your Interests in State and National Politics.  I cannot stress how important your dollars are to the lobbying arms of our agriculture commodity groups.  These groups are having meetings with legislators and adminstrative agencies.  These groups are representing the agriculture industry in Washington D.C. and state capitols.  One way to help strengthen our public image is to help make sure that these organizations have the dollars necessary to do so.  Dean Norton from the New York Farm Bureau (“NYFB”) has stressed the need for the entire industry to be united — whether you belong to the organic or conventional agriculture industry.  See Dean Norton, “Farmers must search for unity, commmmon ground,”  FBNews at 3 (March 8, 2010).  Supporting these organizations in concert will help strengthen the agriculture industry as a whole.  

5.  Let Your Voice Be Heard.  Find your strength and use it as your sword.  Do you like Facebook and Twitter?   Do you prefer YouTube and Video Blogging?  Are you a prolific writer?  Do you enjoy visiting with your elected officials?  Access your own strengths and use it to fight for the image of American agriculture.  Don’t be bashful and tell your story.  You might be suprised who is listening/watching.  Might just be a longtime friend who you didn’t realize was having second thoughts about the safety of his/her food or a legislator preparing to cast a vote on an important issue affecting the industry.

Share this Article

Comments 1

  1. Pingback: Twitter Trackbacks for Rincker Law, PLLC’s Agriculture Law and Policy Blog » Blog Archive » “Farmers Fight… Farmers Fight…” [rinckerlaw.com] on Topsy.com

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *