Here we are again, back to spending time on agriculture issues and time with my friends. I have been blessed to meet some of the coolest people that are passionate about their chosen vocation.
Agriculture is Life.
It has taken me time to realize this concept. When, I met Brian, I can honestly say that I was one of those people that took agriculture for granted. I never thought about where my food came from, how it was grown, or where my clothes came from. I only wanted “organic” produce due to it being “better for me” and “cleaner for our environment”. I had no idea why I thought that was true but I was adamant in these ideas. Unfortunately, many people in our world today cling to these views. I am proud to say that I don’t.
As the modern world faces continued economic changes, political unrest, and population growth, not only am I passionate about agriculture for our farms and our children’s interest, but I have begun to see the larger political, social, and economic issues facing agriculture. I have been blessed to learn about agriculture from the inside (aka I married a farmer). In the coming decades, the world’s population is due to reach over 9 billion people, yet no new farmland is being created.
Farmers face concerns about feeding a growing world, in the midst of heady opposition. Groups such as the Humane Association of the United States, PETA, vegan proponents, and animal rights activist are issuing information that is often misleading, occasionally fiction, and full of half truths about agriculture. Farming has been linked to corporate farms, factory farming, and corporations interested in monetary returns rather than public safety. The public perception of a farmer; however, remains an image held in high esteem. Farmers are thought of as honest, hard working, dedicated individuals committed to excellent, environmentally sound practices.
Farmers don’t get rich off government subsidies, they don’t mistreat their animals, and they don’t destroy the environment. Yes, corn prices are at an all time high but the average American does not realize that most of the “profit” is eaten up in production cost. Yes, there are a few bad apples in every group, but when animals are mistreated, local farmers are often the ones stepping up to care for the mistreated and neglected animals. When your bottom line is impacted by poor health, over medication, lack of care for animals, you care for them – they are your bottom line.
For years now, there has been a determination to fight back against the tides of misinformation being espoused by PETA, HSUS, and other anti-ag groups. However, I think maybe the time is right for modern social media outlets to open conversations with others about what it is that we do in agriculture. These are a group of people who raise products that they often use themselves or in my case feed to their own children.
America is a land of choice. We the people are promised certain rights, and the freedom of personal choice is one that I hold dear. I don’t need someone to tell me how to eat or what to eat. I don’t want to be told what to wear. Nor, in reverse do I want to spend my life telling others what to do. I want to spend my time educating people to the lives of their own making. I can respect the value of personal choice. I just wish HSUS, PETA, etc would respect that these are my choices.
Facebook, blogs like this one, twitter, you tube offer the modern agriculturist an outlet to provide open and honest conversations with individuals about modern agriculture practices. We can connect them to people who share similar interest both in agriculture and whatever outside issues interest them. These social media outlets also provide a link between agricultural groups themselves. The organic farmer can learn why a traditional farmer would choose to use round-up ready seeds and the organic farmer can maybe see why a traditional farmer would utilize modern farming methods to produce more food on less ground with less environmental impact.
Tweet chats, Facebook discussions, and blogs open to the world discussions about Genetically Modified Seeds and the perils facing all farmers. America’s farmers are aging. We are loosing farm production land to urban sprawl. More and more farmers face having to deal with neighbors that have never been exposed to agriculture. Social media can connect agriculturist with others who have dealt with similar issues.
In my day job, I have learned that yelling and arguments often led to the opposite effect. I hope that through blogging, tweeting, and Facebook I will be able to give back to a community of people that have given so much to me. Farmer are friendly people. I am proud to say that I have “friends with Tractors”. There is a happiness found in people so committed to a way of life. I can go to any part of this state, and many parts of several other states and find a friend.
Anyway, boy did I get off track – I am supposed to be telling you about our Farm Bureau Young Farmers and Ranchers Fall Tour. We are in Fayetteville, TN, this year in Middle Tennessee. Tonight is the Excellence in Agriculture competition. This competition seeks to empower and reward Tennessee Young Farmers and Ranchers who actively seek leadership roles in our industry. The prize is a John Deere Gator. (I am proud to say, Brian and I won this award in 2009 and went on to get in the Top Ten at the Farm Bureau National Competition – still sorry that I did not do more to win Brian the truck) Tomorrow, we will tour around Middle Tennessee seeing various agriculture aspects of Tennessee.
I hope to be up late and then back up early to spend every minute with my “friends with Tractors” but what I hope to show is these are also friends with GPS technology, college degrees, and a sincere intrest in providing excellent agriculuture products for our country and our world. A farmer is a great friend to have. I have been blessed to have to eat those opinions. I still occasionally buy organic and our beef is raised hormone free, but I don’t worry about my chicken or if my carrots got sprayed with round up. I think with our current political and environmental concerns there are bigger fish to fry then yelling and arguing with HSUS about how happy my cows are. Have you seen the pictures of my cows? My hubby sometimes spend more time with them than with me.
I plan on winning people over to agriculture by being a positive voice for this cause I have grown to love. Looking forward to tomorrow.