I was first introduced to the concept of consumer outreach when I received the National Beef Quality Assurance Producer of the Year award in 2009. I did not realize it at the time, but the award was actually the first catalyst to the creation of this blog.
Shortly after winning the award, I participated in the Farmer Goes to Market initiative which led me to the National Grocers Convention to speak with retailers about animal welfare. What followed were a series of trips around the country (California, Texas, New York City etc.) speaking to groups of people that were interested in where their beef comes from.
As I sharpened my public speaking skills, the number of invitations to engagements rose until one day I realized something very important. As much as I loved to share my farm and speak to others about how I raise beef, I loved my family and my farm even more.
When I traveled:
- I missed the crooked half smile that lights up my husband’s face when I tease him.
- I missed the laughter of my girls as we shared our day.
- I missed the quiet dawn at the feed yard when it was just me and my animals and the work that soothes my soul.
- I missed burying my head in my horse’s mane and breathing in his scent.
- I missed home.
This realization put me into a real quandary. I knew that reaching out to others outside of my farm was important, but the passion that I felt for raising food was contingent on being at home with my family on the farm. It was at this point that I began to blog—blogging was a compromise—I could still share my farm, but I could do it without leaving home…
The lingering question, then, becomes “is that enough?”. Can I and other farmers create transparency regarding food production through social media? I do not know the answer to that question but a group of diverse agricultural organizations have come together to help figure it out.
This alliance, USFRA (U.S. Farmer Rancher Alliance) is working hard to offer people, like me, some additional savvy and support as we look outside of our farms and into your living rooms.
Currently, the USFRA is searching for the “Faces of Farming and Ranching” in the United States. This is a nationwide search for a few individuals who are excited to share the story of their farm or ranch with those folks that have interest. USFRA is in the final stages of choosing the “faces” and has it narrowed down to 9 finalists who have expressed an interest in traveling across the United States to share the story of agriculture.
I am proud to say that Janice Wolfinger has made the final cut of finalists. Janice and her husband, Jake, together with their two daughters have both a cow herd in Ohio and a small cattle feed yard in Nebraska. Janice is currently taking a hiatus from teaching (she is a certified FFA instructor/teacher), and is looking to continue her love of education in a different role—as a Face of Farming and Ranching.
I would like to ask you all to go to http://www.fooddialogues.com/faces-of-farming-and-ranching/janice-wolfinger and vote for Janice. You can vote for her every day between now and December 15th. Please help me to help Janice to have the opportunity to share her wonderful story through USFRA!
I am so thankful for Janice and her willingness to give of her time to participate in this program. I am proud to call her a fellow cattlewoman and look forward to all of her great work on behalf of myself and the other hundreds of thousands of beef farmers in the United States. You can also check out her blog at http://www.fortheloveofbeef.blogspot.com.
Thank you for taking the time to help!