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Are you telling your story?

March 5, 2010

This morning I was gathered by over 2,500 U.S. farmers and ranchers ready to hear what the future of agriculture holds. I was reminded and motivated, might I add, by the various impacts agriculture has on the U.S. population as a whole.

The General Session started with Mark Mayfield, master of ceremonies, first engaged the audience with a few laughs.

The light-hearted atmosphere was carried until Tom Vilsack, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, approached the stage. Though the atmosphere was still positive,Vilsack discussed the future of agriculture and the policies in he is pushing in Washington, DC.

Tom Vilsack addresses U.S. farmers and ranchers at Commodity Classic.

Vilsack shared his appreciation for those involved in the industry by committing to the fight for rural America. In addition, he emphasized that the outlook in the U.S. needs to return, “if we cannot grow, people will not eat.” Vilsack wrapped his speech with a genuine thank you to the farmers and ranchers on behalf of all the uneducated consumers – something producers do not hear very often.

Guilt then hung farmers and ranchers heads’ as Jay Lehr, agriculturalist economist and futurist, began his speech about the many battles agriculturalists continue to fight. I agreed with Lehr as farmers and ranchers are not doing enough to share their story with consumers. Lehr raised anger as topics about agricultural enemies, PETA and HSUS, were discussed. Point being, farmers and ranchers need to help educate the consumers through the Internet. If not, farmers’ voices will not be heard, the family farm will be lost, and people will not eat.

As I left the ballroom, I got to thinking about the conversation I had with a producer before the program began. This producer was raised on a family farm and had retired back to the farm, while continuing to partake in various leadership positions in agriculture. As a young journalist, these farmers’ stories are incredibly moving because they contribute to feeding over 300 million Americans and numerous people globally. Agreeing with Lehr, farmers and ranchers need to begin using social media and resources in their communities to share their message, in order to continue agricultural production.

Just like all those 2,500 farmers, I left the session discussed with the consumer, while being incredibly motivated to help share producers’ stories. Environmentalists and livestock activists will not win this long battle. Farmers and ranchers will not let it happen.

By the way, after the session I proudly grabbed a roast beef sandwich to sooth my hunger.

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