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Speaking Up for Agriculture: The Power of Advocacy

If you’re not sharing your message, someone else is. This statement is repeatedly said by industry groups, businesses, and organizations that often get caught in the crossfire of misinformation. I’ve always been passionate about agriculture, particularly the seed industry, but haven’t necessarily spoken up as much as I should in support of this great pursuit. In a time where there is a very small percentage of the population connected to agriculture, it is even more important than ever to be an advocate.

Recently I had the pleasure of spending the day with Michelle Miller, aka the Farm Babe, who has an intense passion for debunking myths about food production and understanding the truth about modern agriculture. Michelle was once a city girl who believed the misinformation about farming but is now one of the biggest influencers in the agricultural industry for sharing facts about the 2% who produce food, feed, fuel, and fiber for the other 98% who are consumers. She is a true advocate for agriculture, and her messages are far-reaching.

In 1840, almost 70 percent of the American labor force worked in agriculture. By 2000 this dropped to barely two percent. (USDA)

Advocacy can be difficult due to the complex nature of issues being addressed, resistance from the opposition, limited resources, political dynamics, and the shifting change of public perception. Realizing the importance of sharing the message for your industry or organization will help you overcome these challenges and find effective ways to communicate. Despite the difficulties, advocacy remains crucial for driving positive change and addressing issues, making the effort worthwhile.

Your voice matters! As an individual, you possess unique perspectives, experiences, and insights that can contribute to the conversation around issues you care about. Your voice has the power to raise awareness, challenge existing narratives and inspire others to take action. Speaking up for your organization or industry can bring attention to needed change or stop the spread of misinformation. Expressing your opinion, sharing your story, and engaging in constructive dialogue will impact others and contribute to meaningful change.

"Bridging the gap" is a common phrase used in agriculture because it often involves stakeholders with different perspectives, interests, and challenges. Agriculture involves many individuals, including farmers, researchers, buyers, sellers, policymakers, consumers, and environmental advocates. Bridging the gap consists in finding common ground, building understanding, and encouraging communication and collaboration with people that tend to have differing perspectives. By actively listening, seeking common objectives, and engaging in respectful conversations, advocates can close these gaps, allowing for productive discussions and the development of shared solutions to significant issues.

Telling the story is a powerful tool in advocacy as it personalizes the issues, creates connections, and inspires action. Advocates can effectively convey the impact of their cause by sharing personal stories, real-life experiences, and compelling anecdotes, all of which help paint a picture making complex issues more relatable. Storytelling also enables advocates to convey the urgency and significance of their cause, persuading others to take notice and join in creating positive change.

Controlling the perception of agriculture is critical for positively influencing public understanding and support for the industry. With increasing concerns about sustainability, safety, use of resources, and environmental impact, advocates must effectively communicate their industry's message. Controlling the perception involves presenting how agriculture contributes to food security, rural development, economic growth, and environmental stewardship, such as soil health and conserving water resources. This can be done by engaging in conversations, utilizing social media platforms to share stories and facts, or organizing educational events where others can learn about agriculture and address misconceptions. Through effective perception management, advocates can grow support and appreciation for agriculture and its vital role in feeding the world.

Advocacy is a powerful tool for promoting positive change. It can lead to positive outcomes, create lasting impacts, and empower individuals. Michelle Miller said, “Even if you’re not involved in the farm every day, collectively and collaboratively, we can move mountains within agriculture. So many people are so far removed from where their food comes from that it’s up to us to tell that story and be that strong voice for agriculture.” We all need to be advocates and support agriculture's crucial role in our livelihoods. Don’t hesitate to speak up and share your voice.


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