My fascination with media hasn’t ceased, even though I no longer work in it. Nevertheless, I continue to seek ways to return to it so I can be a part of something much larger than myself — namely the advocacy of American agriculture.
One thing that gives me a glimmer of hope is people like Ryan Goodman, a generational cattle rancher from northern Arkansas, who’s blog “Agriculture Proud” has more than piqued my interest.
As I’ve written in the past, American agriculture is more than just the means to put food on our tables, though that is its primary function. It is intrinsically connected with American national security and our national sovereignty. Under Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, human beings first need food, water, shelter and warmth before any other perceived or actual need. Put in a whole different context, consider all the third world tin-horn dictatorships and the abject poverty of food available to the masses. While government tyrants suffer no lack of agricultural sustenance, their subjects wither and rot while the flies and buzzards gather. Enough on that matter.
What interests me about people like Mr. Goodman and other young agriculturalists, is their interest in opening up the debate on agriculture and their willing embrace of social media and other new forms of communications to help consumers better understand agriculture. As Goodman writes in a blog post titled “Agriculture has some work to do:”
“I’m pretty passionate about emphasizing the need for better conversation between customers and the agriculture community. Many times we become too dependent on facts, figures, and key phrases that become mundane and over-used. Don’t get me wrong, those are great facts that our customers need to hear, but we shouldn’t solely depend on them. You wouldn’t enjoy a conversation with someone who did nothing but react defensively with facts and figures. If I want that, I’ll go sit in on a college lecture. It’s a conversation, be a person.”
As a journalist, I’m guilty of falling into the “fact trap.” Print enough facts and publish enough charts and you’ll win over even the most ardent opponent! Yeah, right! Sadly I had to learn that the hard way — through time and experience.
So how do we educate the 99% (consumers), who rely upon the 1% (farmers and ranchers)? And what is our purpose of education if not to persuade and promote the importance of American agriculture?
That’s where — I think — the notion of agriculture as vital to American sovereignty and security is important. Nevertheless, I don’t think we need to directly say that inasmuch as it still needs to be conveyed.
The importance of such an initiative can be realized with the understanding that most of us are simply ignorant when it comes to our food supply. We instead simply expect food to be readily available at the grocery store, convenience store, fast food joint or our favorite restaurant. Imagine the shock and horror in America if, just for one day, every grocery store was empty!
There are some strides being made to connect our food sources with the end-user. Domino’s Pizza recently received some accolades for rejecting a call by the Humane Society of the United States to stop using pork from farmers who still use gestation stalls. I saw a television advertisement this morning for Applebee’s restaurant that features a chef standing in a farm field and continues by showing various dishes created by Applebee’s that features some of the same commodities.
And that’s the purpose: to create a message that America’s food supply continues to not only be the safest and best in the world, but that laws and policies have consequences. Yes, we want safe and delicious food at the cheapest price possible. What we don’t want is farmers hog-tied by onerous and frankly stupid regulations that have no value in the promotion of food safety, but instead limit our supply of food and raise the price of what remains.
- Has ag media changed with the times? (acrossthebackfence.wordpress.com)
- Farmer in the know: 5 easy ways you can help us help animals (eatocracy.cnn.com)
- No bull – start a conversation with a farmer (eatocracy.cnn.com)
- No bull – what a farmer wants you to know about how beef gets to your plate (eatocracy.cnn.com)
- Pigs on @ChrisChinn’s Farm & Ordering @Dominos Pizza (janiceperson.com)
- CNN covers impact of drought through farmers’ voices (agricultureproud.com)
- Meet a Farmer, via Social Media (offthecobb.wordpress.com)
- Farmer: ‘If you eat, this drought will affect you’ (eatocracy.cnn.com)