On Jan. 28, the Minnesota Corn student Agvocates met in Mankato for MN Ag EXPO 2015. Some of our duties at EXPO as Agvocates included attending a session about climate change and the cause and effect of different weather patterns across the world. We also had the chance to help serve meals and assist with some of the other events that went on throughout the day.
One of the best parts of my day was being able to converse with Minnesota Corn members from across the state at our western-themed booth at the trade show. I really enjoy talking with people from across the state and country about their background and being able to listen to their stories.
Back in June when the Agvocates traveled to the Minnesota Ag Ambassador Institute, we attended a workshop by Mary Milla who trains people on how to become better presenters. She taught us a lot about the misinterpretations consumers have about how farmers take care of our livestock and grow our crops, and how we can change their opinions about some of the viewpoints they have.
She also explained to us the importance of farmers sharing their stories not only with people involved with agriculture, but also with people who are completely removed from the farm. It is extremely important for us to talk about agriculture with consumers so that they know we do care about what they are eating. We are eating the same foods they are and would not want to put something harmful into our bodies. If consumers can hear what happens on a farm firsthand from a farmer, they are going to be more likely to trust us instead of other people and organizations with an anti-agriculture agenda.
I think it is just as important to listen to consumers as it is for them to listen to us as well. To gain someone’s trust we must first learn a little bit about them and their concerns about agriculture. I go to college at South Dakota State University and a lot of people, even in an agriculturally centered place like South Dakota, still do not understand very much about farming. When I start talking to people about agriculture I make sure to listen to their concerns so that I can help them feel more comfortable about what they are worried about.
I would like to end with a quote I heard a few years back when I was doing FFA public speaking:
“We as farmers have an important job to do. That is to tell our story. We all have friends, relatives, and neighbors that do not understand farming, and who better to tell them than us? They have to know how much we care. Food is our connection to our consumers; farmers are raising food for our families and yours.”
Make sure to share your story, it’s a pretty simple thing to do, and can make a huge difference.