Jim Schweigert President, Gro Alliance

Well, 2019 has been quite a year so far! It started with epic flooding and the wettest spring on record. It descended with high yield and planted acre estimates from the USDA. It was again rocked by tariffs and destruction of foreign demand for our crops all while the world was being told to stop eating meat and that our dietary choices had lit the world’s lungs on fire. Oh yeah, and the plan is now to take away rural voting power by abolishing the electoral college. It’s hard to believe that 2019 was just one year. So much potential for economic and life-altering changes usually doesn’t happen over the course of a few years, let alone from spring to fall!

A natural human reaction is to feel overwhelmed and retreat into a friendly corner of the Internet and vent about how the world has no idea what it’s talking about. 

This moment, however, calls us to do just the opposite. Taking action won’t change the weather or USDA numbers, but it has the potential to elevate our major issues and garner public support instead of angst. 

Ag has long been comfortable talking to itself and reluctant to take its message outside the farming community. Farmers are some of the most trusted humans on the planet. Despite the rancor about killing bees, polluting groundwater and mistreating animals (all of which is misguided), the public does believe farmers care for the land, the animals, and the future of the food supply. Farmers and ag business have the opportunity to directly connect with the non-farming public through social media or face-to-face interaction and speak to the concerns folks have. 

The pressures farmers, ag businesses, and seed companies feel all stem from the growing divide between those who produce food and those who consume it. Our story resonates when told through the lens of the farmer’s battle to feed a growing population in a changing climate with limited land resources and more costly inputs. The work we do is necessary and noble. 

There are openings for this dialogue. More urban residents are experimenting with home gardens. Consumers will pay more for food when they have a connection to the farmer. People are thinking about how food production practices jive with their lifestyles. This is where you come in! You are the best messenger that ag has. You don’t need to be a Kardashian to have an impact, and it doesn’t have to be on social media. Share your story at the grocery store, at your kids’ sporting events, at the neighborhood BBQ… share it everywhere. Ag can only overcome the hum of negative noise if we use our voice. You, as imperfect a messenger as think you might be, are that voice. Let the world hear it and let’s turn the tide into 2020!