Let Your Voice Be Heard
March is National Ag Month, and we are celebrating in typical fashion — trudging through the snow and mud while taking care of newborn calves.
When you live and and breathe farming and ranching, every day is agriculture day; however, it’s exciting to see an increase of advocacy and storytelling on social media and consumer events during this month.
One might wonder why it all matters. Who cares if the general public knows what we do in agriculture? What’s the point if they “understand” how we care for our animals, and what it takes to produce the essentials of life?
The reality is that our consumers, the people we aim to serve, largely get to determine if we remain in business or not. They vote on ballot initiatives that impact how we get to manage our land and our livestock. They vote with their dollars when they go to the grocery store. They vote on politicians who, depending on their political ideologies, will either protect and preserve our food security or put it at risk with burdensome regulations. And they vote with perception. What is deemed trendy and worthwhile is highlighted in pop culture — movies, magazines, TikTok, fashion, and more.
Right now — there are more eyes on American agriculture than ever before. As Yellowstone, and its spinoffs, become wildly popular, more people are wanting to dress like the characters. These days I see more Carhartt worn in urban places than I do at the local sale barn.
Another example would be the homesteading movement. Thanks to the last couple of years with lockdowns and mandates, many in the Gen X and Gen Z are stepping out of the rat race and buying themselves a few acres of land — to raise chickens, grow a garden, homeschool their kids, and embrace a slower-paced life centered on family, independence, and living off the land. You wouldn’t believe the designer chicken house I’m seeing on Instagram these days, and how wildly popular posts about canning food and making bread are.
What I’m seeing unfolding is creates some new opportunities. There is a growing segment of the population who want to get back to their agricultural roots. They want to know their farmer and rancher. They want to buy local, or they want to grow it themselves.
I welcome them with open arms. They’ll soon see how steep the learning curve is and how incredibly hard this way of life can be. But with that challenge comes the satisfaction of achieving something worth doing. And as they learn and dive into this industry that we love, hopefully their appreciation deepens, and when it comes time to vote on the next big thing that will impact agriculture, perhaps they will fight alongside of us.
Because the fights aren’t going away. Right now, animal rights activists are working overtime to eliminate the sport of rodeo. And climate change extremists will not stop until every farm is “carbon zero,” and every cow is taxed for her farts. Meanwhile, we have politicians pushing for slapping ESG (environmental, social, governance) scores on everything we do; which is a dangerous path to go on that I’ll discuss in future columns.
These folks, and those who buy into their lies, are part of a massive deception — one that ultimately hurts people by making food more expensive and unattainable for everyday Americans while eliminating hard-working families who produce the food we need to survive.
So why does storytelling in agriculture matter? I think the answer is clear — there are very few of us left in production agriculture today. Our story is often lost in the noise of today’s 24/7 social media chatter. What’s worse, it’s being told by activists, celebrities, politicians, and media pundits with an agenda.
Don’t stand down, and let these folks do the talking for you. You have an incredibly powerful story that is unique to your family and your operation. The best champion for your future is you. Let your voice be heard!