In my scholastic career, I have written many papers and other works about milk. In fact, I wrote a ten page paper my senior year of high school about the nutritional benefits of dairy milk, with annotations and medical journal sources included. Why? Because 1.) I am a big nerd and 2.) I feel like this is one of the most important agricultural topics that many consumers today are misinformed about. The United States dairy industry produces more than 20 billion gallons of milk annually, yet many consumers are choosing dairy alternatives at the grocery store. For my Animal Science 211 class this semester, we were asked to create an infographic about any controversial animal science issue of our choice. I thought I would share mine with you.
American agriculture has been under attack over the course of these past few months. I’m sure you’ve seen the news articles; from headlines concerning the Chipotle E. Coli outbreak to the Subway antibiotic-free meat announcement. Just this week, a PETA activist took to the organization’s blog to explain how “FFA is lame AF”. That post fired up many of my fellow agriculturalists, and rightfully so.
For many of us, FFA is the organization that started our love for all things agriculture. I, myself, grew up on a farm but I never really saw myself pursuing a career in agriculture until I was an active FFA member. Because of FFA, I learned how to be an effective communicator, how to work in a team, and of course, how to appropriately place a class of Jersey heifers (3-1-2-4). FFA took me places I would have never been otherwise. (National Conventions in Louisville and Indianapolis, Washington Leadership Conference in D.C., etc.) FFA helped me meet lifelong friends and even a few business connections, even as a high school kid. It opened my eyes to the fields of opportunity there are in agriculture today. Perhaps most importantly, FFA taught me how to be a supporter of agriculture by being an AGvocate.
Advocacy for agriculture, or agvocacy is very important for our industry. If we, the people actively involved in agriculture, don’t tell the truth about agriculture, who will? Someone will- the misinformed media will, the anti-agriculture PETA activists will, and people who don’t understand modern agriculture will listen to them. It’s time for us to tell our positive stories until we outnumber the amount of negative news stories infiltrating our industry.
That is the challenge facing today’s agvocates; the media and the uniformed consumer. We NEED to have people understand where their food comes from. The only way we can teach them is to tell them our stories. We need to be open and honest, while listening to their concerns. We need to be loud, and use social media as well as face-to-face interactions to connect with consumers in order to set the record straight. We need to use every opportunity possible to get the word out about the truth of agriculture.