Editor's note: The following article was written by Mike Barnett, Director of Publications at the Texas Farm Bureau (TFB), and originally published on the TFB website, Texas Agriculture Talks.
It always puzzles me why farmers and ranchers don’t get more incensed about those people who viciously attack what they do. I’m talking the anti-GMO crowd, animal rights activists—those few with loud voices who grab the headlines in newspapers and the internet—who passionately deride modern agriculture as evil and misguided and are finding a growing audience. Where’s agriculture’s passion?
I wonder if it’s because farmers and ranchers think this unpleasant noise is beyond their control. Do you feel like it’s an undercurrent like the weather…it’s either going to rain or not so there’s nothing you can really do about it? Or markets? Prices go up and down and all you can do is anticipate and hope things work out better next year. Are you conditioned to not respond because you feel you can’t change things?
Or is it more of an issue of why worry, it doesn’t affect me…it’s happening somewhere else, not outside my farm gate.
One recent incident gives me hope that farmers and ranchers will find the power of their voice. Remember the proposed child labor rules from the Department of Labor (DOL)? That proposal lit a fire under agriculture. Comments poured into DOL. You actively blogged about it, wrote letters to the editor and flooded Facebook and the internet.
It kicked agriculture out of its lethargy. You may have felt this issue was out of your control, but you attacked anyway. You saw it happening somewhere else but realized how it would affect your farm or ranch.
What’s more personal than reaching out to your customers with the truth about what you do?
The other side is waging a very effective battle for the hearts and minds of Americans. Too often their diatribes are met by silence from our community.
It’s within our power to change the course of this unruly food debate. Discover your voice. Speak with passion. Together, agriculture advocates can accomplish anything.