From the Field: Telling Your Story

From the Field is a bi-monthly column written by Mark Campbell, Farm Bureau Field Services Director for the Central District. He writes about Farm Bureau member benefits and County Farm Bureau activities.

Central District Women’s Committee Chair
Joan Talley with VDACS Commissioner
Matt Lohr
That was the theme at the Central/Northern District Farm Bureau Women’s meeting last week.  Speakers were Matt Lohr, Commissioner of Virginia Departmentof Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS); Turner Gravitt, Southern States Director of Corporate Events, Member Relations and Government Affairs; and Dane Rothfrom the U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance (USFRA).
Matt Lohr was energetic and motivational as always.  The audience welcomed his message to make the best of their situation and to use their talents to the best of their ability.  Matt reported impressive statistics on Virginia exports, and the potential to further increase agriculture exports.  Matt also made the case that there was room for all types of agriculture, big and small, organic and conventional to feed a growing world population.  As you know there has been a mixed message and attacks within our own agriculture industry.  We can offer the consumer choices.   But we don’t need to confuse them by degrading other production methods.

Turner Gravitt of Southern States shared knowledge about change in the agriculture industry and Southern States 90 years in business.  Part of the change in agriculture has been the development of genetically modified organisms (GMOs).  Round-Up Ready crops have played a huge role in agriculture.  While there is a lot of debate about GMOs, Turner told the audience to make their own decision on GMOs, but telling their personal story is the best way to educate consumers about agriculture.  Lindsay Reames just reported on GMOs in the most recent Plows and Politics Blog, and you can learn more at www.gmoanswers.com 
Dane Roth, with USFRA flew in from Chicago and gave presentations at the central/northern and capital district meetings.  The USFRA is an alliance of approximately 70 groups that support a unified platform to get agriculture’s message out to the general public from farmers and ranchers.  You can find them at www.fooddialogues.com and there is a section of the site dedicated to factual agriculture information.  He talked about conversation with EASE.  EASE stands for Engage, Acknowledge, Share, Earn trust.  EASE is all about having civil discussions about food production.  He shared some really interesting stories about anti-agriculture people who changed their opinions about agriculture after engaging with farmers and ranchers.  There were even examples of people that were hostile toward conventional agriculture ended up defending the farmers that they originally distrusted in online forums.
You are the best expert at what you do. You don’t have to know everything about everything, or recite a bunch of statistics. You will be more convincing by sharing what you do.  Telling your own story is the most convincing to the reader or recipient and helps earn trust.  In today’s world, there are a multitude of communication methods for you to get your message out.  It is hard for someone to argue with you when you are telling your story.
In a few weeks, I will be sharing updates on harvest season straight from the field with some pictures.
Until next time,

Mark

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