Time to Advocate for Agriculture
Promoting FFA, 4-H, the fairs, and agriculture is so important to me. I especially felt it was my duty to do so while I served as the Somerset County Fair Queen. But now that I have passed on the crown, I still feel that as a member of these organizations and as an agriculturalist in a generation far removed from agriculture, it is still my duty.
On Tuesday, Dr. Temple Grandin lectured in my Animal Science class at Texas A&M University. She provided us with a wealth of knowledge, but one fact that surprised me was that more than 31% of people today have never been on a farm. Meaning that a lot of people only experience agriculture at county fairs or stock shows and many get their “facts” from radical animal activist groups on the internet. Because everything you see on the internet is true, right? WRONG. So she stressed the importance of promoting the agriculture industry, education, and the actual facts.
There is so much we can do as agriculture enthusiasts to combat the negativity that is so often geared toward the industry we love.
Dr. Temple Grandin, who is famous for her animal welfare systems, spoke of the importance of following proper practices on our farms. I see it so often at the county fair, frustrated exhibitors struggling to get their animal to the show ring; animal and exhibitor both in distress. This commotion often draws me in. If it catches my attention, chances are, it will definitely catch the attention of visitors. Then, rather than remembering the outstanding group of senior showman exhibiting their livestock in the ring, they’ll remember that scene of struggle between the exhibitor and the animal; putting a negative thought in their mind about the livestock shows. That’s why it’s so important to put in time at home so we can set a good example at our fairs.
Another thing that happens at livestock shows is that the public is there, but we just mind our own and don’t talk to them. Many people have questions and we don’t take the time to answer them. I think about this a lot with the PA Farm Show coming up because many of the visitors are from the city and their experience there is a huge part of their exposure to our industry. It is our job to educate, because no one else will.
One of the statements Temple made that she was most adamant about was “don’t let the FFA programs die”. Programs like FFA and 4-H are the most important ways to promote agriculture because they teach the youth and the youth are the future of agriculture. About 10 years ago, I knew nothing about raising a pig, goat, or steer. I had no idea about the abundant career opportunities in agriculture. I was just an eight year old kid that thought showing a goat looked pretty cool. Now, 4-H and FFA have changed my life.
PETA often uses social media to bash our industry. We can use social media to show our friends and the world that farmers are not stupid, that 4-H and FFA are great programs, that we love our animals, and that we would never think of harming them.
Today's farmers continue to be the backbone of America, with the average farmer feeding 155 people. As agriculture enthusiasts, we need to set a positive example, educate, and take advantage of the many ways we can promote agriculture, now more than ever.