WV Farm Bureau Magazine November 2014 - Page 26

Sharing the Story of the American Farm Chris Chinn I’m a farmer and a mother. Leaving my farm and family isn’t exactly something I treasure. It is, however, an investment I make to share the story of my American farm family. I am not alone in this mission. As one of the Faces of Farming and Ranching for the U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance, I introduce people to what farmers do and why. This is not as simple as you might think. Truth is: it’s rare to find people who have a solid understanding of what farming looks like today. With most Americans at least three or four generations removed from the farm, few have connections with the people who bring food to their tables. Thanks to USFRA’s Faces of Farming, I now connect with people far outside of agriculture and on a broader scale than I once did through my blog and social media platforms. I recently met with reporters along the Northeast corridor to discuss issues that are important in both rural and urban America. The use of antibiotics on farms and ranches was a recurring theme. But as I told them, antibiotics are just one of the many tools we have to responsibly care for our animals. Veterinarians and animal nutritionists play a key role in determining our animal care plan. Every decision we make regarding animal health is made under their 26 West Virginia Farm Bureau News guidance. Farmers and ranchers are always looking for ways to improve the care we give our animals. Bloggers talk to each other a lot, but meeting faceto-face often brings the most benefits. I’ve gotten to know many urban bloggers and have discovered we have more in common than we would have expected. We all struggle to find interesting topics to write about, and we all have hectic schedules that prevent us from blogging as often as we’d like. Most importantly, we all want to feed our families healthy and nutritious food. Many urban bloggers tell me I’m the first farmer they’ve met. I enjoy telling them about family life and business challenges on the farm, but I’ve learned just as much about the rest of America from them. Conversations like these help shape my story for people who have never visited a farm, so I can better explain what daily farm life looks like, including methods we use to grow food. I remember joining a food discussion panel with Bo Stone – another one of the Faces of Farming– along with a chef for an international hotel chain and an independent hotel and restaurant owner. Bo and I shared our stories about the crops we grow and animals we raise on our farms. We explained why we do certain things to produce food and how our farms have changed over the last 50 years. This was also a great learning opportunity for us as farmers to hear about what goes into the decision-making process when chefs and restaurant owners buy food for their menus. Through USFRA and other programs, farmers are sharing their stories like never before. Our platform for engagement has been elevated. I am finding that our fellow citizens, our friends and neighbors are receptive to learn how much we care for the land, animals and environment. They need to know that all these things we care for are in good hands. Agriculture must stand united in telling its story, but the story must be told in the genuine voices of individual farmers. USFRA’s Faces of Farming gives us that chance. I look forward to hearing more stories from those who follow in lending their unique voices and the credibility that only comes from a life on the land.