Why I Farm: Coley Jones Drinkwater, Dinwiddie County

Coley Why I Farm“I farm because I feel called to. I love the challenge, it’s where my heart is, and I love working with my family. Farming gives my life purpose. When I fulfill that purpose I feel like I am my truest self and, most of the time, my best version of me. I think that to do anything other than farm would feel like a dishonest life. I am fortunate that my purpose is also my passion. Farm life is hard, oh so hard, but it also has many blessings such as working with family, eating homemade snacks at Grandma’s, and watching my niece grow up.”

Dinwiddie County Farm Bureau member Coley Jones Drinkwater was featured in Beck’s Why I Farm series. Read her full ‪#‎WhyIFarm‬ story here:  http://www.whyifarm.com/blog.html#!/blog/posts/Why-I-Farm-Roadtrip-Coley-Drinkwater/25

Why I Farm: Bob Harris, Pittsylvania County

Bob“If you ever want to be close to the good Lord above, you’ve got to be a farmer cause that’s gonna teach you faith like nothing else can. You sit out here in this seat and watch a little bitty old seed come out and grow. Harvest is just miraculous. A lot of people don’t know what they’re missing. Even the hard work. There are days when it’s 105 degrees and you walk out of the house in the morning and start sweating just walking to the truck. But at the end of the day, it’s a good kind of tired. You know you put in an honest day’s work. You know you’re not going to get rich doing it, but it’s who I am. This is what I do.” – Robert Harris, first generation farmer from Chatham, Virginia

Pittsylvania County Farm Bureau member Bob Harris was featured in Beck’s Why I Farm series. Read his full ‪#‎WhyIFarm‬ story here: http://bit.ly/WhyIFarmRoadtripRobertH

Why I Farm: Sarah Leonard, Fauquier County

Sarah Leonard

Sarah Leonard, Fauquier County Farm Bureau member, is featured on  ‘Why I Farm’

Natalina Sents, a recent agricultural business graduate from Iowa State University, has embarked on a year-long trip to learn about why farmers farm in all 50 states. Sents visited Virginia a few weeks ago and interviewed several Virginia Farm Bureau members.

Sents is a former marketing intern for Beck’s Hybrids, the largest family-owned retail seed company in the United States and sponsor of the Why I Farm Movement. She approached the company in December 2015 to tell them about the travel-and-blogging project she had brainstormed for two years. Beck’s was immediately on board.

She started the Why I Farm Roadtrip on May 15 and plans to meet farmers in all 50 states by May 30, 2017.

To keep up with the Why I Farm Roadtrip visit whyifarm.com or Sents’ personal blog, Roots Journey, at therootsjourney.blogspot.com.

To read her first Virginia farmer entry on Sarah Leonard of Cows-n-Corn dairy in Fauquier County, click here: bit.ly/29KF6jG

Stay turned for more ‘Why I Farm’ stories from Virginia farmers.

Follow Us on Facebook? Make Sure You Keep Seeing Our Posts

Facebook-createAre you seeing fewer and fewer Virginia Farm Bureau posts in your news feed? That’s because a recent Facebook change is further limiting the reach of brand pages like ours. (It’s an effort to make sure people don’t miss posts from friends and family.) But there’s a way to ensure you don’t miss a single thing from FB… including breaking news, farm photos, member benefits, and MORE content that’s not always featured  on Plows and Politics! Here’s how… On your computer, visit the Virginia Farm Bureau Federation Facebook page, and hover over the Liked button (click Like first, if you haven’t); select “See First” instead of Default, and you’re all set! To do this on your phone instead, just visit the FB page, and click the Following button (click Like first, if you haven’t); then select “See First.” Do it NOW, so you don’t miss out!

From the Field: Agriculture’s Message in a Sound Bite Culture

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.

For several years the agriculture community has worked on educating the general public about the production of food and fiber. This educational effort has received an increased emphasis from agribusinesses, food retailers, commodity groups, and agriculture organizations in the past two decades, but especially the most recent decade. The Internet and social media have facilitated the ability of anyone to put out information, pictures, and videos to the world in a matter of minutes.

Through social media, the information expands to readers and viewers exponentially. Information is great, but the crux of it is how to decipher the legitimate information from rumors, myths, or just plain made-up information. I am happy to say that many people in our community have really stepped up to the challenge of being an agriculture advocate.

So how do we get our message out amongst all of the other messages out there, and how do we counter misinformation that can be easily believable to a public that has much to learn about agriculture? The good news is that I believe the public is more informed about agriculture than they used to be. We have great advocates for agriculture that are doing a great job. Being an effective advocate means reaching outside of our community, being genuine, trustworthy, and transparent, and relatable. The U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance has developed methods to help agriculturalists work on these things. I’m not saying that we are not trustworthy, genuine, or transparent; we have just had a hard time expressing it. We must remember that we are one of the steps in getting food on the plate. People want to know where their food comes from and how it was raised. So if you think of yourself as a food producer; it gives you a different perspective.

This year, two agricultural messages on video have created quite a buzz. One is a YouTube video called “I’m Farming and I Grow It.” Check it out below. It has had over 7 million views. It’s not chocked full of statistics, but it is entertaining. It puts a personal face to people in agriculture, and it is relatable to people. We often are uncomfortable talking to a nonagricultural audience. Well, nonfarmers aren’t sure how to relate to us either. Sharing your personal story helps both groups understand each other.

The other video is done by Dr. Temple Grandin and the American Meat Institute. The video can be found at http://www.animalhandling.org under the “video” link. Temple Grandin’s video is a transparent and factual view of how cattle are humanely treated at a large beef packing plant. Temple Grandin has credibility, and her message is accepted as legitimate among nonagricultural people. I think people see her as an unbiased authority on animal welfare, and she is the world’s most prominent authority on the subject. In the video, she comments about all of the false stuff on the Internet about animal welfare, and the lack of factual and accurate information. The video may be too graphic for some. But I hope the video done by the world’s most prominent authority on animal welfare will dispel some misinformation and misconceived thoughts of people about animal welfare in meat packing plants, even those in the agriculture community. I have attended a couple of presentations of Temple Grandin and they have always been very informative. She doesn’t mince words and means what she says. Her Autism helps her think and see in pictures. This unique perspective and ability has helped the livestock community immensely. She has designed livestock handling facilities such as corrals, unloading docks, packing plant designs, etc. to create the best environment for animals and people. Several agribusinesses, ranches, and feedyards have used her services, and some have redesigned their whole operation.

One message that Grandin had two years ago still sticks in my mind as baffling, but it was true. She said that she was speaking at a college class about animal welfare and the topic of grass fed beef vs. conventional beef came up. She said that the college students actually thought that conventional fed cattle spent their entire life in a feedyard. They thought that the cow lived in the feedyard, had her calf there and the calf lived the remainder of its life in the feedyard. She quickly corrected them by saying that ultimately all cattle are grass fed. They are ruminants. Cattle that do get fed in a feedyard are typically there for only 150 days of their life. All of the other time, they were on grass. This information blew their minds. What we may take for granted as being commonly known information might surprise us that the general public may have a different idea.

If you have a specialty, share it with the world. For example, the beef industry is my main interest. I completed a Masters of Beef Advocacy curriculum two years ago. I can speak on beef cattle and beef as it relates to the environment, nutrition, feeding practices, antibiotics, or animal welfare. Feel free to contact me with questions at mark.campbell@vafb.com.

So don’t be afraid to share your messages about agriculture. You don’t have to have a big presentation or do a lot of research. Just share what you do as your part in putting safe, wholesome, and nutritious food on the plate of so many people. Your message might just be the sound bite that someone needed to hear. With today’s technology, your testimony may reach more people than you ever imagined.

Until next time,
Mark