Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Is That Even a Word?


Ever heard of it?

This is the hot new buzzword in a LOT of Agricultural circles. 


Farmers and ranchers are an independent lot.  Tough, hardworking folks that possess the ability to creatively solve problems with little input from the outside world.  Occupation, lifestyle and location make this a necessity.  Farmers account for only 2% of the population.  However, they (we) provide food, clothing and shelter for everyone else!

For many years, society enjoyed the abundance from farms with little thought as to production practices.  Why would anyone question farmers while they were busy eating/enjoying farm products?  It’s rude to talk with your mouth full. Meanwhile, farmers were far too busy producing to do much marketing or promoting. 

Farmers are also a practical lot.  When questioned about the ways of farming, they often answer with facts.  Just the facts.  Today, with much of American society three generations removed from the farm, facts and figures don’t always mean a lot.  Consumers want emotion. They want to feel good about their purchases.
That’s where agvocacy comes into play. 

An advocate is “A person who publicly supports or recommends a particular cause or policy.” Mix with AGRICULTURE and you get a whole new word.  AGVOCATE.  The practice and pursuit of this new word is AGVOCACY.

 In recent days, farmers and farm practices have come under attack by animal rights groups.  Much of the information put forth by these groups is erroneous and hurtful, not only to farmers, but to the American public as well.  With all the talk about CAFO’s and Factory Farms, GMO’s, hormones and pesticide use, few folks actually get beyond the rhetoric and garner any sort of understanding of the actual work of farming.

A lot of the “information” that is bandied about has little, if any, basis in fact. Many times skewed opinion becomes accepted as fact.  Before you judge practices, meet some of these people, hear their stories, and make an effort to understand. When researching any type of farming practice, be sure to get your information from the “horse’s mouth” so to speak, and not some anonymous internet source.  You will be amazed.

Unfortunately, there is a contingent that thinks anyone who farms is out to rape the land, mis-treat the animals and overcharge everyone while so doing.  Nothing could be further from the truth. It is the hope of many in agriculture to “put a face” on farmers and what we do. As AGVOCATES, farmers and ranchers bring the passion for and commitment to our life and livelihood to the public.  By telling our stories, sharing our experiences, hopes, desires and dreams, we become more transparent and real to the very folks who NEED our products. Look for more blogs about agriculture, facebook pages and twitter posts coming in the near future from farmers and farm families who run all sorts of operations…large and small, but particularly the larger producers.

I, for one, am glad to see the “big guys” get involved. Many erroneous assumptions are made about farms that are large and produce massive amounts of farm products.  Big producers are absolutely necessary and their stories need to be heard.  As small, direct marketers of farm products, we have been on the frontline for years, meeting folks and answering agricultural questions and concerns. I cannot tell you how many times I have heard, “well…I didn’t know that about …(whatever)…Thank you for your information and candor!”

While anyone with any connection to agriculture can be an agvocate, the true passion and convincing emotions come from those who make their living from the land. Social media makes this easier for the farmer-agvocate to share his/her story while making it fun and easily accessible to the public.

Agvocate…yeah, it really IS a word. 

Hey!  I like that…I actually have another job description.  I’ve been an AGVOCATE for more years than I care to count. 

In order to explain why, I will borrow a line from Chris Cagle…

this is what I know,
                            this is where I'm from,
                                             and this is what I love!
                                                                                                                     From the song “I’ve got my country on”

…and I would really like to help others understand and appreciate what we do, how it’s done and why we do it. 

I’ll be keeping you posted. J

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