Farmers and ranchers are interested in telling their stories to the American public. They just need a vehicle to carry the message. A number of readers agreed with Eric Akins contention that agriculture needs a spokesperson, as he explained in my May 11 blog.
American agriculture has a story to be proud of. Our farmers and ranchers produce a quantity and quality of food and fiber that is the envy of the world. They are efficient producers, stewards of land, water and air and committed to using those resources in a manner that assures that the land passing to the next generation will be better than it was when they took it over.
We all would like to get that story out to the public more effectively than we are doing now. Several readers expressed their support for an effort to improve our communication efforts.
Bob Parker, president and CEO, National Peanut Board, wrote: “Ron, I enjoyed your article about the need for a spokesman for agriculture. It’s hard to rouse the crowd when you’re telling the truth and not fear mongering like the Dr. Oz’s, Food Babes, etc. It’s a real challenge to get people to listen when it’s just the truth.”
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Ben Scholz, B Scholz Farms, Lavon, Texas, a leader in North Texas ag circles, wrote: “Ron & Eric, Just read the SW Press story. Great presentation of what's needed. Keep up the work, for somehow ag needs to figure out how to become a proactive voice for the science and most importantly the safety and abundance of today's world food supply. Coalitions of the entire agricultural community need to be banding together stronger and produce ads like cotton did several years ago 'Cotton...The Fabric of Life,' that can catch the attention of the general public. To change public perception is today's challenge.”
And Jacko Garrett, Garrett Farms, Danbury, Texas, offers his opinion: “I have preached for 20 years that the agriculture industries should form a coalition of every commodity in the U.S. Staff an office with good lawyers that could represent every commodity in the U.S. Hit anyone with a lawsuit before the sun goes down when they make untrue statements that devastate a commodity.
“Farm commodities are perishable. Once many of the accusations are refuted, the commodity has perished. The people making the comments need to face the consequences of their statements. Most of the time there is no factual data to back their statements. The cost of a check-off for sustaining a great staff of lawyers would be minimal if all commodities in the U.S. would participate. Everyone would be included—the beef industry, vegetable growers, citrus growers, grain growers, etc. Anyone in agriculture could be a member of the group. Oprah Winfrey better be careful what she says about the beef industry if she doesn’t want to spend a lot more time in the courthouse.”
It’s a big task because as Bob said, no one is as interested in the mere truth as they are in hyperbole and rumor. Fear sells more pages and air time, attracts more attention and appeals to bigger audiences than just facts.
We’re interested in ideas. Tell us yours.