CP editorial: Why the story of agriculture needs to be told

Everyone should have a passion, E.M. Tiffany’s was believing in the future of agriculture, Norman Borlaug’s was developing high yield varieties and John Deere’s was making plows. What is my passion? When recently asked to answer this question, I turned to my parents, teachers and even adviser for guidance.  However, they turned the question back to me. First, I had to understand the meaning of the word passion — a strong feeling or desire towards something you believe in. I then asked myself, what do I believe in? As I thought about it, my mind kept coming back to something that affects not only my community but also my family: Agriculture.

Even as a child, agriculture meant the world to me. However, as a youngster I did not understand the problems farmers face every day. For instance, anti-agriculture activists leading the public to believe that farmers are uncaring toward their livestock and poor stewards of the land. These activists are successful in leading people astray because of lack of communication and education between the farmer and the public at large.

It is critical that farmers portray a positive message and why I have discovered my passion is to be an advocate for agriculture. An advocate is a person who publicly supports or recommends a particular cause or policy. We advocate for agriculture by communicating through social media, speeches, essays and events where kids and adults alike can learn about the beliefs and value of agriculture. 

Social media is a tremendous outlet for this purpose. I am able to share my passion for agriculture through creative, positive and persistent postings on social media. I have the ability to combat the anti-agriculture message by developing and promoting its positive image. An example of using this tool is when People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) attacked the National FFA Organization for teaching unethical practices to youth. I advocated on Twitter and Facebook. I posted: I am proud to be a part of an organization that believes through hard work and dedication you can achieve much. I was able to use social media to correct misinformation and bias surrounding the National FFA Organization. 

Additionally, preparing speeches and essays has become an excellent avenue for me to use to share the message of agriculture. Each time I write a speech or essay, I pick a topic that introduces information about the positive impact agriculture has on both local communities and the world. The best people to speak in front of are those who are not informed of the impact agriculture plays in their everyday lives. I find I am able to speak with passion because I am not only advocating for agriculture for myself; I am advocating for an entire community.

A final way to advocate for agriculture is through activities and events. I had the opportunity to interview a local farmer, Brian Snyder, about advocating for agriculture. He believes this is important because we need to spread the bright message of agriculture out into the world.

Snyder encourages us to focus on reaching out to younger audiences.

“Organizations such as FFA or 4-H could put together a half hour event or activity explaining the importance of agriculture for elementary schools,” Snyder said.

He suggests these events include activities that are fun for children while informative for adults. For example, my local FFA chapter sets up a variety of informational activities that explain the importance of agriculture in our everyday lives as part of Agriculture Awareness Day. I believe awareness days are essential when advocating because they inform the youth; youth who can help spread the positive message of agriculture. These events are orchestrated to educate those who are uninformed about agriculture. This can help increase appreciation for the agricultural sector. When participating in these events, I make sure my passion for agriculture shines through so that today’s youth know the impact agriculture plays in our world.

Everybody has a passion; I now understand that my passion is advocating for agriculture. Agriculture is a gift and the opportunity to advocate for it is an honor. I am humbled by the people I have met who share their stories of the positive message of agriculture.