Ad●vo●cate – (noun) a person who publicly supports or recommends a particular cause or policy. Or in the agriculture community, more commonly referred to as “agvocate.”

At every cattle producer meeting, pork conference, dairy expo and crop seminar there seems to be a common theme – telling your agriculture story. Agvocating. Yet, there still seems to be a confusion of sorts on what is the best way to agvocate.

On one side of the spectrum are the social media wizzes such as Agriculture Proud, The Adventures of Dairy Carrie, Farm Girl Facts of Life and the up and coming The Idaho Rancher's Wife (to name a small few), sharing their personal agriculture experiences through blogging, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter – basically if there is a social media site, they have it covered.

On the other side are producers who have no idea what some of these sites are – if anything is going to be doing any sort of “tweeting,” it’s a bird. And here is where the lines tend to get blurred, a lot of times these people are under the assumption that since they aren’t active on the internet, they can’t agvocate.

And they are dead wrong.

Food●ie– (noun) a person with a particular interest in food; a gourmet.

Last night the Kansas Farm Bureau and Kansas Soybean Board hosted “Zest and Zing a foodie and farmer event” at The Culinary Center of Kansas City.

Around 100 Kansas City foodie’s crowded together as Chef Gary Hild and Chef Richard McPeake went head-to-head in a culinary showdown.

The diverse group networked over cocktails, steak kabobs, pulled pork sandwiches, cucumbers stuffed with pesto and cheese so fine it smelled like stinky feet.  

Here’s the best part.

Five farmers and ranchers were present to speak about their agriculture operations and answer questions directly from consumers.

Derek and Katie Sawyer were on hand to discuss their cow-calf and stocker operation, along with growing corn, soybeans, sorghum and wheat. Derek said he spoke with several consumers who had diverse backgrounds, but all seemed to be connected to agriculture by a couple generations. Katie, who is part of the CommonGround agvocate group, has a New To The Farm blog which shares her experiences as a town girl marrying a farmer and cattle rancher.

“Everyone involved in agriculture needs to get out and tell their story to the consumer,” she and Derek both said.

Nick Guetterman, a fourth-generation farmer who grows corn, soybeans and wheat spoke to the group about how his family’s farm was started and how the corn he grows is turned into livestock feed.

Craig and Amy Good spend the evening speaking to consumers about their purebred Angus operation and specialized pork production for Heritage Foods USA. Heritage Foods provided pork from the Good’s farm that was used in the culinary showdown.

When asked why they took the time to be part of the event, Craig responded, “There is such a need to bridge the gap between the producer and consumer. When opportunities present themselves to help communicate what you do for a living, you have to take them.”

Priceless education and communication for the agriculture industry happened in one short evening. Consumers were able to put a face to the product and hear the truth about where their food comes from, from the people who grow it – all because a handful of producers took the time to step out and speak up.