An industry that feeds you is an industry worth fighting for. An advocate for agriculture, sometimes referred to as an AGvocate, can be anyone who works to tell the inclusive story of agriculture. Whether that is a farmer, scientist, veterinarian, rancher, or someone else all together, anyone can do their part to support today’s farmers. Here are the top five reasons why you should be an agriculture advocate and get involved in the discussion:
1. You can help people! There are many consumers out there who want to learn more about how food is produced but don’t really know where to turn. Additionally they could have been “fed” misinformation, so who better to share the facts with them than YOU if you’re involved in food production? As an outspoken agricultural advocate myself, some of the biggest benefits and “feel good” moments are the times when I get messages saying thank you. Sometimes parents are worried about what to feed their kids based on misinformation surrounding pesticides, hormones, GMOs, etc. … but once they have clarity from a trusted voice in agriculture, you can help alleviate those fears and help them make better choices, save money on their grocery bill, and all around help them get the real facts.
2. Protect the family farmer. When markets get tough and the family farmer struggles or is forced to shut down their business due to difficult times, well, I don’t think anyone likes to see that. If by advocating and raising awareness on these topics, communities can become stronger and farmers markets more plentiful; we can all even influence policy makers to enact more farmer-friendly rules and regulations. In my opinion, we also need to do a better job as an industry being more proactive and not reactive with the messaging. We could certainly use more celebrity voices, movies, and all around more mainstream media attention direct from the farmers and the experts who hold actual degrees in ag related fields. Gwyneth Paltrow, Natalie Portman, Zooey Deschanel, etc. … are you listening?
3. Business and branding opportunities. Help spread the message of food companies that are doing things RIGHT, and businesses that are doing things wrong. Influence with your voice to make a difference. There are many agricultural bloggers and speakers out there who have generated enough interest to build brands, strengthen the message, and monetize as a small business through social media influencer or conference partnerships.
4. Help the planet. What if you discovered a new ag practice in your area that helps stop erosion? What if you’re an advocate for better animal welfare or planet breeding that allows farmers to use fewer chemicals while still maintaining yield? I think these are practices that we’d all like to see more of as long as they’re based in solid evidence. For example, I’m a big proponent of no-till farming in our area, so we started a no-till society to encourage more farmers in our county to get on board. Motivate other farmers in your area to speak about beneficial practices that help everyone.
5. Everyone votes! This is a huge one. Sometimes when people vote, they’re not always that well versed on a topic to where they “think” they’re making the right decision but don’t always know the facts. Voting yes or no on certain issues can be a make or break the price of affordable food, better animal care, or policies that can put farmers and important programs and technologies out of business. Just make sure the facts come from the agriculture experts and not activist groups that may be misinformed or have a profit or agenda.
For more info and to connect with other agricultural advocates, check out some popular hashtags for advocacy like #Agvocate, #factsnotfear, #actuallivingfarmer, #agchat, and #agtwitter, and find out more about how you can help do your part to share the story of agriculture!
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.