This is me. Just an ordinary woman from Iowa. Someone that most people don’t know. I don’t have a job that makes me county, state, or national known. I’m just a farm girl who loves raising cattle. You’re probably wondering what I really know about being an advocate for agriculture. I’m no one compared to other people in the agricultural industry. I’m just little ole me. That’s exactly the point. You don’t have to be a ‘somebody’ to be an advocate for agriculture.
I’ve attended many advocacy conferences and seminars throughout the past year. The exact same things have been said at each conference:
- Tell the truth. Don’t make up a story to make things seem better.
- Tell YOUR story. Tell people exactly what you do.
- Give the facts. If you know facts, tell them to people.
- Don’t get defensive. Just explain your side and be respectful of theirs.
Simple as that.
So how do you go about doing these things?
- If you over hear someone saying something about, for example, GMOs, explain to them what you know about GMOs. I always like to tell them that we’re just trying to feed a growing population. We already aren’t going to have enough for people in 5 years and we’re just trying to help the world stay hunger free. Something along those lines. Don’t bite their head off or go WAY over the top. Just simply say your peace and walk away. If they have questions, GREAT, if they don’t, that’s fine too. If they DO have a question, make sure not to lie. That’s the worst thing you can do. Make sure if you don’t know, that you direct them in a direction that can help answer their question. For GMOs send them to the corn grower’s association or something along those lines. Being polite is the best thing you can do!
- Start a blog, make a facebook status every now and again, write a newspaper article, contact your local news station, etc.. Have someone come hear your story. Tell your story. Tell the county, state, or nation what you’re doing on your farm that is worthwhile and amazing. You don’t have to re-invent the wheel. Tell them something that most people don’t know. Tell them of how detail orientated you are during lambing or why you do certain things to improve the life of your animals. Tell them why you put chemicals on your fields or why you rotate your crops. Let people know that what you’re doing is meaningful and that you are proud of what you do. Being proud really proves that you are confident in yourself and your farm.
- All the industry leaders in your state have FACTS of what agriculture provides for others. It helps others realize that these are not made up ideas by the crazy old cat lady down the road. This is the truth right from the source. It makes people stop in their tracks and realize that they may need to think twice before they say something bad about something they know nothing about.
- Make sure to keep your cool. It’s easy to get upset when people are talking poorly about your passion and life. Trust me. I’ve come close to telling people where to shove it. I didn’t, but it was close. Remember, they don’t actually know what is going on. They’ve just heard what they’ve heard and feel that this is probably the truth. Especially when it’s coming from our nations media outlets. Kill them with kindness. Even though I’d rather say, “If you don’t like how we grow your food, then grow your own damn food.” or “Hope your kids enjoy starving”. I DO bite my tongue. They respect you more and don’t tell their friends that some “crazy hick” came ranting and raving about agriculture. First impressions are EXTREMELY important, especially in these instances. Swallow your pride, put a smile on your face, and be able to know you might have just changed one person’s mind.
If everyone just tells someone a fact every day, we’d be making a difference. If agriculture is important to you, make sure you let people know that. Fight for what is important to you. Getting the facts can’t get around if no one spreads the news. Leading officials need our help in letting people know about what we’re doing. And who better to hear it from than the people who are ACTUALLY raising the food they eat. Like Theodore Roosevelt once said, “Nobody cares how much you know, until they know how much you care” and “Do what you can, with what you have, where you are”.
Remember, the future of agriculture is in OUR hands. Not the governments. Not the state officials. Not the industry leaders. It’s in ours! Embrace this challenge and be an advocate for agriculture.