As if the impact of drought hasn’t been enough, agriculture has had it rough in the eyes of the media during the past few years. With groups like PeTA and HSUS drumming up emotional topics and images with poultry and pork farming, it has been tough for farmers to get a positive voice in the conversation.
Earlier this year, ABC News really hashed the ‘pink slime’ topic to the point where hundreds of individuals lost their jobs and a safe beef product is now seen as hazardous in much of the public’s eye. Mainstream media has been looking for that sensational, emotional topic, and food is the one subject that impacts every person who eats. There are a few good stories spotted around, but they’re hard to stick in the public’s mind.
We have to give props to CNN for featuring the voice of multiple farmers from across the country in recent weeks. The current drought situation is one of the worst in this country’s history, and with so few Americans depending directly on the soil for a living, it’s important that farmers are out there to remind customers of how it impacts our food supply.
Impact of Drought on Indiana Farmer, Brian Scott
Last week, CNN visited Indiana farmer Brian Scott (@thefarmerslife, Facebook), whose corn crop has been whittled down in the dry weather. Brian and his dad had a few moments on Live TV and were able to share a few thoughts on how the extreme drought conditions are affecting neighboring farmers. View the live segment video here and a later segment here. Brian also wrote on his blog about the events of hosting USDA officials and tv crews on the same day.
Impact of Drought on Missouri Farmer, Chris Chinn
(CNN) – The drought of 2012 will be one that farmers and ranchers remember for years to come. My husband, Kevin, and I are fifth-generation farmers. This is the first drought we have experienced since we were married and started farming together in 1995.
Our farm, like most other U.S. farms, is really suffering right now and in desperate need of rain. The media have pegged it right: it definitely is the worst drought of our generation.
Kevin and I own and raise hogs, cattle, corn, soybeans and alfalfa hay on our farm. Typically, we don’t have a lot of crops to farm, but this year we decided to rent an extra 200 acres for that purpose, doubling our row-crop acreage. We were able to purchase crop insurance for most of our crops, but unfortunately that alone will not help make our farm or equipment payments to the bank since most of our crops are ruined.
Our crop failure isn’t what keeps me awake at night these days; it’s worrying about our animals. No crops means no feed for livestock. We can’t stop feeding cattle and hogs. We own 60 head of cattle, and our family has 1,500 sows on our farm. Bountiful crops are needed for an adequate feed supply, but so too are healthy pastures for cattle grazing. Both need rain.
My Voice on CNN’s food page, Eatocracy
Over the past few months, I have also been blessed to have made contact with the editor of CNN’s food page – Eatocracy. Kat has welcomed me for three opinion pieces, encouraging customers to connect with farmers who produce their food, and my most recent piece last week shared insight into how the drought affects my family’s cattle farm in Arkansas. View all of my pieces here.
I encourage you to thank the editors of CNN’s pages for seeking out the voice of farmers and making an effort to make connections to the farmers producing food for this country.
Opportunity for Food Dialogues
If you’re honestly looking for an opportunity to engage in dialogues with those customers already talking food, I encourage you to check out CNN’s food page – Eatocracy. These folks are already discussing food topics, current stories, and having some fun along the way. Don’t go in looking to set the world to rights, but if you see an opportunity to leave a comment and share your experience, leave a constructive comment that will lead to positive conversations on this page. OR if you’re just looking for a daily coffee conversation, there’s the daily coffee klatsch. Be sure to follow Eatocracy on Facebook and Twitter.
You may find some who aren’t as receptive as others to comments, but I guarantee you there are folks there interested in comments from the agriculture community.
Again, give props to CNN for being one of the few national media outlets regularly welcoming the agriculture community to share a voice in the public’s eye. We’re one of many minorities in this country and welcome the opportunity.
Remember to cultivate those relationships with your local media and continue sharing your story and answering questions others have about the food we eat.
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