There are real threats to farming and ranching in America.
Many well-funded forces want to drive as much animal agriculture out of business as possible - and with it, row crop production throughout our heartland. There are those who want consumers to turn their backs on the science and technology that improves food production because they are afraid of the unfamiliar, because "it isn't the way our grandparents farmed." This jaded view of agriculture, this unacquainted and cynical view of our farms and ranches has become mainstream. Perpetual and growing voices accuse farmers of harming the environment, and use half-truths and sensationalism to spread fear. Notably, there are food companies making decisions counter to what is best for our land, our animals, our society because of activist pressures.
And yet, our strong and independent farming and ranching families work hard every day to evolve. We adapt and strive for improvement, especially when it comes to sustainability and animal care. We put science first and look to the future, not the past. Yet, as the backbone of our rural communities, we are often misunderstood, stereotyped and disadvantaged by distance from food concerned populations and urban media.
American farmers are fiercely independent. It is what makes us competitive and strong. We are entrepreneurs and small business owners who manage through thin profit margins and unpredictability. Our land, and in some cases our farm animals, are vulnerable to Mother Nature and we oftentimes find ourselves at her mercy. Our hearts and prayers are with those in Texas that are currently experiencing such catastrophic effects from the weather.
But is it possible that this independent spirit also has a downside when it comes to telling our story? Do we splinter because we want to "do it our way" even when that means fewer resources to defend our practices and fight for the right to use technology? We seem hesitant to raise our voices together, as one.
There are currently dozens of separate efforts to "inform and educate" the public about farming and build trust in American agriculture. Many of these programs are smart. But most struggle to be properly funded, especially during a downturn in commodity prices. However, those organizations that demonize modern agricultural practices are not splintered in their well-organized efforts. Agriculture would be well-served to join arms and combine our resources.
U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance (USFRA)® was created by farm, commodity and agri-business groups with the purpose of rebuilding consumer trust in American agriculture. Trust is the cornerstone of consumer purchase decisions, and trust allows farmers and ranchers to produce food in a manner that is environmentally sustainable, while utilizing SMART and modern production practices. We speak to consumers through the voice of our farmers and ranchers from across the country. Duplicating this effort as a partner enhances our core program's effectiveness; duplicating it as a separate entity may drastically diminish it.
USFRA strives to represent all aspects of farming and ranching. We don't promote one commodity over another. We believe in diversity of production methods - but also science and technology. Our goal is to earn the trust of the American public for all of agriculture. In many ways, we are defending the rights of farmers and ranchers to exist in America. Again, those out to destroy American agriculture are well coordinated, well resourced, and close to urban populations and media.
As Henry Ford once said, "Coming together is a beginning, keeping together is progress, working together is success."
Let us work to combine resources. Let us stand as one to tell our story.
About the Author: Randy Krotz is the CEO of U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance