Together We Are Stronger…

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.BQA Logo

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.

They are the light of my life...

They are the light of my life…

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.

    She's a lot like her Mama...

    She’s a lot like her Mama…

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…

We are all in this together...

We are all in this together…

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.

How is he cared for and how does he make beef?

How is he cared for and how does he make beef?

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.

Janice and her family...

Janice and her family…

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!

8 Comments

Filed under Animal Welfare, General

8 responses to “Together We Are Stronger…

  1. Peggy Jackson

    love the outreach through the blog . I feel like there needs to be more, a concerted effort to reach younger children by educating them, and their parents. Take a page from H$U$, design free educational materials for the schools! Nutrition, biology ( breeding), finance, ecology are just a few of the angles i can think of that might be used as the basis for various units. Worth a thought.

    • Hi Peggy, I agree that teaching our young kids “where their food comes from” is incredibly important. Like Bobbi (comment below), our family participates in the Nebraska Agriculture in the Classroom program in order to try and do this. You are correct that we need to make a concerted effort to improve outreach!

      Thanks for sharing,
      Anne

  2. Dawn

    Done!
    I agree with Peggy about reaching out to our youth. I know our local 4H program requires our kids carrying livestock projects to be BQA certified. That’s a start, but that is really preaching to the choir. Those that need to be reached the most are those NOT in the food production cycle

  3. Nebraska Farm Wife

    1 good way for farmers and ranchers to reach out to the youth (especially those in urban areas, that never get to see a cow in real life) is through the Ag in the Classroom pen pal program. My husband and I have participated in the program here in Nebraska for the past couple of years. I do know that many states offer the program but I feel that not many people know about it. I would encourage parents to look into speaking with their childrens teachers about enrolling their classrooms in the progam as well as other farmers and rancher to become pen pals as well. One of our classrooms requested the commodity prices so that they could use “real life” numbers into teaching math and the concept of supply and damand. Great way to get kids excited about learning not only about where there food comes from but also important life skills.

    • Bobbi,

      We too participate in the NE Ag In the Classroom program. It is a great way to reach out to urban youth. My girls help to write letters and take pictures to share with our class, and they learn almost as much from the program as the children in our class in Omaha! It is a win-win situation.

      Thanks for taking the time to participate in a great program! We need more farm and ranch families to do that…
      Anne

  4. Donna Haake, DVM

    Social media is definitely a plus but I do not believe it can be a “stand alone” instrument for agriculture advocacy and transparency regarding food production. Agriculture needs an aggressive, integrated outreach program. Student exchange programs, class room exchange programs – I am thinking Skpe here – expos in large & small urban malls. Outreach that reaches beyond the agricultural community and conventions. There’s more ideas on this topic swirling around in my mind. It probably needs to keep swirling a bit longer.

    • Those are all great thoughts, Dr. Haake—keep them swimming and start thinking about logistics. I agree that social media can not stand on its own, but I do think that it plays an important role. I am always “game” for folks to visit my feed yard in person, but Central Nebraska is not always the easiest place to get to! I agree that Skype can also play a key role.

      I think that the most important word that you used was “integrated”—all of agriculture needs to work together and share our abilities in order to be effective. Each farmer and each type of food producer has some gift that they can share–we need to unify and harness that power to reach outside of our farms and into urban areas to attain the transparency that is needed.

      As always, thanks for sharing.
      Anne

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s