Why I AgVocate…

In the last few hundred years, our world has changed, immensely.  Once upon a time, everyone farmed and ranched for themselves.  Everyone needed to be dependent on the soil, and their own two hands, to eat.  Over time the nation’s farmers and ranchers learned, and developed new systems, increased the size of their operations and optimized the yields.  With those advances the population started opting for different careers, because it gave them the freedom to choose.

We as farmers and ranchers became so good at our jobs, that food was readily available at low cost, that increasing numbers of people chose to remove themselves from it. Years of these changes have created a population that has inverted from an almost entirely agriculturally capable nation, to one with only 2% feeding the other 98%.

A few generations ago, people while not farmers themselves, were still acquainted with the farm. Perhaps they grew up on the farm but decide not to carry it on, or perhaps their grandparents were the farmers.

Unfortunately, now some people are so far removed from the farm that they haven’t even stepped foot on one. They no longer need to think about how and where their food comes from so, they simply do not.  Why would they anyway, after all, their food just appears on grocery store shelves, doesn’t it?

This lack of basic agricultural understanding has translated into many other aspects of our current political and social climate.  It is illogical to expect that someone who has never had to grow their own food would understand how simple little changes affect our industry.  I don’t pretend to understand how the tech industry is run and what changes will influence its success. That being said, I know that we could all live without the next generation of cell phones.  Can we survive without the agricultural industry?  The answer to this question is an obvious one, to anyone who is reading this.

Unfortunately, though, it seems like we are often fighting for the “right to farm”.  As crazy as it sounds, we are fighting constantly for the ability to grow and raise the nutrition needed to sustain our population, fighting sometimes, against the very people who are dependent on the food, fiber and fuel we produce.  How is it possible that we need to plead our case to the government, to the voting public, and to the consumer on such a constant basis?

In late February, a few hundred of California’s Young Farmers & Ranchers gathered in Modesto.  We came together for our annual convention, an opportunity to learn from each other, to develop our network and to work to find solutions for the problems that face the industry. The most gratifying parts of, not only this conference but also many others, are that we have this chance to be surrounded by so many of our peers that share our same goals and visions.  This camaraderie ignites an energy that seems to revitalize our resolve and determination, allowing us to continue in our fight to protect the agriculture industry, the industry that is so close to all our hearts. Coming together as the next generation of the industry, it is so refreshing to have the same thoughts and ideals and the ability to share them.  This, while exhilarating, is “preaching to the choir” when, in reality we need to “grow the congregation”.

This conference was very aptly focused on sharing our message, many of the speakers focused on different ways to get involved and share the message.  We discussed the many ways to use the media channels that we all have the access to, in order to advocate for agriculture, or “AgVocate” if you will.  Speaking up and speaking out may seem to be a daunting task, we may be concerned about how we will sound or perhaps some may be worry that the message will fall on deaf ears.  It is vital though, that despite the challenges we may face, that we do not lose sight of what we are fighting for.

The ratio of 4:1 is used to describe how many positive messages someone must hear to combat one negative message.  Of the many ways that we can help, most are super simple.  Just telling our story, is the most effective. Sharing these brief moments from the field explain and bring the human element to our industry and our “cause”.  We can take 30 seconds and share a #felfie (farm selfie) or perhaps even just sharing a fun farm fact on a social media channel, every bit helps.  Take a moment and share your message today.

I #AgVocate because I care, and I know you do too, show us how you #AgVocate.

 

By Amanda Battle – Membership & Marketing Coordinator, SCFB

 

 

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