Sharing the Joys & Challenges of Ag with the World
Last weekend, I had the chance to speak at an event in Nebraska, and along the way, I picked up a fellow speaker from the airport. Stopping along the way to refuel, I checked the app on my phone, which gives me a direct view of the calving barn.
I could see cow-calf pairs nestled in the straw, but no signs of labor in any of the rest of the heavily-pregnant cows.
My traveling companion, who hailed from a big city on the East coast, asked me what I was looking for, and I quickly explained to him what life is like for us on the ranch each spring and some of the challenges that come with welcoming new baby calves.
We had a great conversation, and I always enjoy every opportunity to share our ranch story with people in my travels.
Some of you may be wondering why I even bother. What motivates me is every time I sign onto social media or browse the mainstream media headlines, every single day I can find something negative about cattle ranching and meat production.
Celebrities love to beat up on producers. Politicians love to beat up on beef. And animal rights activists and environmental extremists are always locked and loaded with propaganda that seeks to strip farmers and ranchers off the land and meat, dairy, and eggs off the dinnertable.
So how can sharing our stories from the ranch help? I truly believe if every person in America had the chance to visit a cattle ranch and ask questions of the cattlemen and women who tend to the land and the livestock, they would fall in love with who we are and what we do.
They would realize our shared values, and they would understand we are on the same team.
Because at the end of the day, producers and consumer want the same exact thing — a healthy planet, happy people, well-cared for animals, and food that is safe, affordable, delicious, nutritious, and accessible.
That’s it. Pretty simple, right?
So where do we start?
We start by going back to the basics — a recipe suggestion, a video tour, a cute picture of baby calves, a fact sheet on beef nutrition, a quick rebuttal to bust myths and misconceptions, and a consistent presence on social media where we are authentically and with great transparency sharing the big and small stories of what we do and what pushes us to do it with excellence.
Farmers and ranchers have a great story to share, but as the cowboy poet, Baxter Black, once told me, “Amanda, the cowboy ain’t dead; he’s just really hard to see from the road.”
Let’s make sure the people we seek to serve can see us! Let’s make sure we continue to find creative ways to have the important conversations. Let’s lead with positivity, and instead of going on defense every time there is something negative said about our industry, let’s go on offense and share our story today and everyday!
I promise we can make a difference if everyone joins in on these conversations! Let’s get to work!