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.