Why Do I AgVocate? -The Farmer’s Daughter USA

What is your role in agriculture?

I grew on my family farm in Southwest Michigan, where we raised fruits and vegetables for our own farmers market and grew corn and soybeans. Today, my family continues to grow over 2,000 acres of corn and soybeans. Although I’m a lawyer by day, I still enjoy helping on the farm in the evenings and weekends, especially during harvest!

What was your inspiration for becoming an agvocate?

I think once you are involved in agriculture it becomes part of you and stays with you. I was always so disappointed to see people spreading misinformation and attacking my family’s way of life. Instead of just getting mad about it, I decided to take my talents and skills and turn them into something positive.

What is your favorite part about being an agvocate?

When a consumer tells me that grocery shopping and approaching food issues is no longer confusing and scary because of my agvocacy.

What is the most challenging part of being an agvocate?

Keeping calm and remaining civil, especially when the other party in the conversation isn’t giving me the same courtesy! Attacks on family farms just feels personal and it can be so hard to realize that, for the other party, they’re just going based on the (mis)information they’ve been given. Likely, comments aren’t meant as a personal attack on our families, even if it feels that way.

What advice do you have for other farmers or ranchers who would like to become more involved in agvocacy?

Reach out and connect with other farmers that are online! Having a strong support system with other bloggers and social media users is absolutely essential to learning, growing your efforts, and staying sane.

What is your biggest takeaway or memory from an AgChat event or twitter chat? 

I enjoy participating when I have time and connecting with a different group of people.

What does the AgChat Foundation mean to you?

I think it is very important that we have agricultural organizations that support and promote farmers as they move into the realm of social media and learn to be their own agvocates.

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Amanda Z

Amanda is from Southwest Michigan where her family farms 2,000 acres of corn and soybeans. For 26 years, Amanda and her family ran and supplied a roadside market selling their own fresh fruits and vegetables. After graduating college, Amanda attended law school at Michigan State University College of Law and is now a practicing lawyer.

Follow her blog, Facebook & Twitter.

Uniting Bee Health

One of the many misconceptions of agriculture pertains to the wonderful world of honey bees. Farmers are continuously dealt increasingly, challenging playing cards including weather, lower prices for their products and increased expenses. Its important that the general public understand that despite these steep challenges, farmers and ranchers continue to place priority on stewardship for the land and other assets such as bees. Assets such as honey bees and other pollinators are an absolutely necessity in the world of farming and ranching.

The Feed A Bee initiative brought together more than 70 partners pledging thousands of acres of land to A portion of a honey bee colony at the Bayer Bee Care Center in North Carolina. AgChat.orgincrease forage for pollinators, including nearly two dozen individual growers and family-owned farms who committed to converting acres of their land to pollinator havens.

It is also essential that farmers and ranchers understand the concerns shared by moms, dads and the general public. In a partnership with Bayer Bee Care, the AgChat Foundation will bring together farmers, ranchers, agriculturalists, moms, dads, dietitians, chefs and more to discuss the issue of bee health. This joint conversation will occur on Twitter using the #AgChat handle on Tues., Feb. 2.

“Everyone has a connection with the honey bee. They work hard to pollinate many of the foods we eat every day. We’re looking forward to opening up this conversation with the AgChat community to discuss the important role of bees on the farm and in our backyards.” – Dr. Becky Langer, Manager of the North America Bayer Bee Care Program

In addition to the Feed a bee program, Bayer CropScience has a unique partnership with an up and coming cartoon character, Vitamin Bee, who offers appeal to children.

“Vitamin Bee is all about educating kids about healthy eating and how bees are a vital part of getting the food we eat from farm to table. We’re so excited to connect our community of parents and teachers with the agricultural community on Twitter!” – Geoffrey Kater, Creator/CEO – Vitamin Bee, LLC

We invite you to join us on Twitter, 5-7pmPT/6-8pmMT/7-9pmCT/8-10pmET, as we discuss bee health, Feed A Bee and encouraging today’s youth to become involved with Vitamin Bee. You can join the conversation by following the #AgChat hashtag on Twitter. The discussion will provide useful tools for both the agriculture community and the general public.

For additional information on how to join this discussion, click here.

 

College Students Hone Agricultural Advocacy Skills at 2016 Collegiate Congress

College Students Hone Agricultural Advocacy Skills at 2016 Collegiate Congress

On April 2, 2016, with support from Dow AgroSciences, college students from across the country will convene at Dow AgroSciences in Indianapolis, Ind., for the AgChat Foundation’s 2016 Collegiate Congress [registration]. Participants will network with top-tier agricultural communicators, farmers and influencers while gaining the necessary tools to communicate their respective food system stories.

“The inaugural Collegiate Congress provided a solid framework as I strive to advocate for agriculture to my highest ability,” said Lexi Marek, 2015 Collegiate Congress alumna and 2016 Collegiate Congress planning committee member. “This event provides excellent networking with speakers and peers leading to future opportunities.”

Dow AgroSciences Supports The 2016 Collegiate Congress

Sessions will focus on strategic communication techniques, time prioritization and agricultural advocacy while expanding networks to incorporate consumer-facing messaging. Additionally, participants will learn about organizing on-campus events, digital content calendars and interacting with consumers.

“Our fast-paced society applauds short attention spans and convenience, which is vastly altering the way consumers receive information. This often leads to consumers’ fear-driven, perceived wants overriding scientific facts in regards to many aspects of the agricultural and food industries,” said Jenny Schweigert, AgChat Foundation executive director. “Collegiate Congress was established to equip young, agricultural leaders with the appropriate tools so they are not only able, but also prepared to connect beyond their typical networks.”

Early-bird registration, which includes a discounted rate, is open until March 1, 2016.

To learn more about the event or to inquire about sponsorship opportunities, contact Jenny Schweigert at execdir@agchat.org.

Why Do I AgVocate? – Shelly Davis

What is your role in agriculture?

I grew up in a farming family, starting to drive combine at age 11. Every summer was driving combine or tractor until I graduated college at 22. Since I was 11, I’ve only missed one harvest. That was a very strange summer for me! Currently, I oversee all logistics during the harvest season now. We bale grass straw on about 22,000 acres on top of farming a little over 1000 acres of grass seed and wheat. It’s a pretty busy job getting over 75 pieces of equipment in and out of fields all over the Willamette Valley! Outside of harvest, I work with overseas customers selling grass straw for their dairy and beef operations. I’m extremely proud to have grown up in a truck shop as well. My dad and mom started with 2 trucks in 1983 in addition to farming, and currently we have 36 trucks that I help my parents manage. We haul agricultural products ranging from our own grass seed and grass straw to “haul for hire” fertilizer, wheat, and bagged grass seed.

What was your inspiration for becoming an agvocate?

I’ve always been proud of my farm upbringing and that has impacted every area of my life and my “story” almost always starts with “I grew up on a farm” in some capacity. I have incredibly brilliant and passionate “aggie” friends who are agvocates; this has been a huge motivation and inspiration in me becoming a louder “agvocate.” I live in Oregon, which has produced legislative sessions and ballot measures lately that literally have required the agricultural industry to become more involved. When your livelihood is being debated in the State Capitol, or part of something being voted on, a person tends to become passionate. Also recently we endured through one of the largest port crisis’s the US has seen. Since my family farm/business exports, we were involved from day 1. I was honored to be able to speak on behalf of the greater farming community and how the port crisis affected us.

What is your favorite part about being an agvocate?

Learning and sharing. I’ve LEARNED so much over the past few years. Also just being able to share with people the joys of farming, as well as the impact it has on so many people. Most don’t realize this! In Oregon, 1 in every 7 jobs relies on agriculture. In the US, the job growth in Agriculture is expected to boom over the next 5 years. It’s a huge part of our economy, and I’m very proud and excited to be a part of it!

What is the most challenging part of being an agvocate?

It takes time. But the good part of this is everyone can decide for him/herself how much time you can spend on this. It’s different for every person, and that’s okay!

What advice for other farmer/ranchers who would like to become more involved in agvocacy?

#1 piece of advice: know what you’re talking about. You will be questioned, you will be called out – and you need to be able to back up your position or statement. This goes back to learning. I’ve had to learn a lot over the past few years. The word research has become my friend. The “louder” and more popular you are, you will become a go-to person on issues. The next piece of advice? Develop lots and lots of friends – you will need to go to them for advice, information, and support. I just commented lately on someone’s blog how much I love having friends in all areas of agriculture. I don’t know a lot about dairy farming, but I know dairy farmers if I have a question!

What is your biggest takeaway or memory from an AgChat event or Twitter chat?

I attended the Spokane regional convention last year. Not only was I motivated from other’s stories, I learned so much from the breakout sessions! I learned more about blogging from “Nuttygrass” and “It’s Mom Sense”, as well as using pictures to tell a story from “OregonGreen Blog”. Everyone who spoke was open to connecting on a personal level, and that spoke volumes to me.

What What does the AgChat Foundation mean to you?

For me, it means developing relationships with like-minded and passionate people. With this I’ve established the confidence needed to share with the public about my life, my livelihood.

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Shelly Davis Shelly Boshart Davis helps run the family farm and businesses with parents, Stan and Lori Boshart, representing Boshart Trucking, BOSSCO Trading, PressCo and SJB Farms in Tangent, Oregon. With nearly 50 employees, the four different companies align and work together providing food, grass seed and forage to customers all over the world. They farm grass seed, hazelnuts, wheat, and bale grass straw. Shelly loves her local community and she is proud to be deeply rooted in the great world of Agriculture. Most importantly, Shelly and her husband Geoff are raising 3 young girls ages 13, 10 and 8.

Follow Shelly on her blog, Facebook, Twitter & Instagram.

Why Do I AgVocate? -Greg Peterson

What is your role in agriculture?

I am a 5th generation farmer from Assaria, KS. I work on a beef cattle, wheat, corn, soybean, and sorghum farm with my family. I also create YouTube videos (Peterson Farm Bros) with my brothers and operate all of the social media platforms associated with that. When I am not working on the farm, I am travelling around the country giving presentations on advocating for agriculture.

What was your inspiration for becoming an agvocate?

When I was growing up in school, I was always frustrated with the perception my friends had of what it meant to be a farm kid. I was always trying to change their stereotypes of what it must be like and educate them on why farming was important. That desire to communicate what I knew to be the truth about agriculture led to me switch my major in college from Ag Economics to Ag Communications during my sophmore year.

What is your favorite part about being an agvocate?

I think it’s seeing the positive difference you can make in what people think about farmers and agriculture. Also, when you see the disconnect between people and their food, you feel like you are needed.

What is the most challenging part of being an agvocate?

Definitely the backlash and arguments you receive from the opposing side, whether that be an activist or just someone who disagrees with you. It’s so frustrating to know something is true but not be able to convince someone else of that truth. But not everyone is open to new ideas and sometimes you just have to move past that and focus on the ones who are.

What What advice for other farmer/ranchers who would like to become more involved in agvocacy?

You can do a lot of advocacy just by being intentional with your time and conversations with people. I do take time to work on advocacy projects but you can get a lot done just by looking for ways to advocate as part of what you are already doing!

What What is your biggest takeaway or memory from an AgChat event or Twitter chat?

Whenever you have a group of people passionate about the agricultural conversation get together, it is something special. Whether online or in person, it is a very neat community to be a part of!

What What does the AgChat Foundation mean to you?

I appreciate the AgChat Foundation for all the advocacy work they do as well as all of the training and material they provide to other advocates.

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Greg Peterson Headshot2

Greg Peterson is a 2013 graduate of Kansas State University where he majored in Agricultural Communications and Journalism. He grew up and still works on a family farm near Assaria, KS with his parents, 2 brothers, and sister. In June of 2012, Greg and his brothers released a video on YouTube entitled, “I’m Farming and I Grow It” that received over 9 million views. Since then Greg and his brothers have continued to produce videos and are now up to 37 million total views on YouTube. The videos have given Greg and his brothers many opportunities around the country and the world to talk about agriculture and he is passionate about the future of the industry.

Follow Greg on his blog, Facebook, Twitter & Instagram.