We all are familiar on some level with the biggest agriculture groups out there, like the national and state Farm Bureaus, 4-H, and FFA. But what about all the other groups in agriculture? There are hundreds if not thousands of resources that help farmers or spread the good word of modern farming. It is extremely difficult to narrow it down, but here are a few groups — some of which I’ve worked with — that are changing the game for ag education and consumer outreach in today’s food space.
1. The National Animal Interest Alliance (NAIA)
I recently spoke at their conference in Orlando last month and all I can say is WOW! A majority of people in the room had Ph.D.s, and I learned a ton! In an era when animal-rights activists spread a lot of misinformation about animal raising or welfare, this group sets the record straight. From greyhound racing to dog breeding, livestock farming to animal testing that saves lives, this group is the real deal. Many of us care about donating to help animals, but groups like HSUS, ASPCA, or PETA are more about financial growth, and only a very small percentage of donations actually go toward animals in any way. Join NAIA to actually help and support our furry friends, which includes excellent programs like Discover Animals and Homes for Animal Heroes (guaranteed to pull at your heartstrings!).
2. A Fresh Look
This is a wonderful organization that is big on consumer education when it comes to genetically engineered foods. The primary focus is for moms who may be worried on what to feed their kids, and it brings the real facts and personal stories direct from experts in their field. (Pun intended.) They’re running huge social media campaigns to connect moms with farmers, scientists, dietitians, and others, most of whom are also moms and share their heartfelt common ground behind the food we eat.
D2D is a great group of ladies I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know. They cover a ton of great topics, including nutrition, farming, health, and wellness. They do a lot of mythbusting (check out their posts on frozen vs. fresh veggies, sugar in juices, glyphosate, and dairy, to name a few) and also have a great farmer series where they visit farms and write about it — explaining how food goes from, well, dirt to dinner!
The Canadian Center for Food Integrity is a conference I attended last week in Quebec, Canada, that was all about building public trust. CFI’s main objective is to be a trusted voice for truth in food production, while providing proper research, resources, training, and dialogue. Check them out and their partner organization, Best Food Facts, which provides science-based unbiased info on food production, with more than 200 volunteer experts standing by to answer questions.
In my opinion, there’s nothing more important than education for our industry! Start students young — your food doesn’t come from a grocery store, it comes from farms! This is a great program that gets students excited about agriculture (check out their student center and career seeker) and provides plenty of educational tools for teachers. Many farmers also volunteer their time to bridge the gap. Find out how you can volunteer and get involved here.
Again, these are just a few resources, but there are many, many groups not listed that also do a great job! U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance, Commonground, different commodity groups, etc. It takes a village to share the messages of agriculture since the average consumer is six generations removed from the farm. Farming is an amazing industry, full of family, food, strong work ethic, science, and continual education. Share this list and get involved to make a difference!
Michelle Miller, the Farm Babe, is an Iowa-based farmer, public speaker, and writer, who lives and works with her boyfriend on their farm, which consists of row crops, beef cattle, and sheep. She believes education is key in bridging the gap between farmers and consumers.