Written by Nicole Krumrie
While I was serving as a dairy princess, my main objective was to talk to consumers about what I was doing on my farm. These experiences were very beneficial as I was able to meet people throughout the state of Minnesota and share my unique farming story with them. I was able to provide them with information on how I cared for the animals I was working with, and ensure them that the dairy products they consume or should consume everyday were safe, wholesome, and nutritious.
We all know that dairy princesses are well regarded in Minnesota. This is mainly because of the butter sculpture tradition, but dairy farmers throughout Minnesota recognize how important dairy princesses are to the dairy community. After I hung up my dairy princess sash and retired my crown, I realized how much work is left to be done in bridging the gap between consumers and agriculture — not just dairy farming, but agriculture in general.
Why wasn’t there more agricultural royalty?! A poultry prince, or even a corn queen?
But, there isn’t. It is up to us, as farmers and agriculturalists, to “agvocate” for what we care about. Part of being a farmer today includes making time to agvocate for yourself and agriculture overall. Here are three small steps that you can start doing to help build your own bridge with consumers. These steps are effective whether you’re communicating face-to-face, at an event, or on social media.
Keep it simple
There is so much propaganda, false information, and jargon going around when it comes to communicating about agriculture. Words and phrases like RFOs, CRPs, and DDGs can really cause people to tune out of what you are saying. It’s like me listening to rap music, half the time I have no idea what they are trying to say, so I just flip to a different station.
Talk in a way that others will understand, so that they don’t flip the station on you.
Above all, honesty is key. When I say honesty, I don’t mean a husband telling his wife that she looks fine after she has been asking him several times how she looks without the husband even glancing up. Look at what’s going on your farm — really take a look, and tell us what’s going on. Farming isn’t all cupcakes and sprinkles. Farming is hard, and that is rarely talked about.
Having those sometimes hard conversations will build a strong bridge that will allow you to connect with others.
Tell YOUR story
Sometimes it seems like once you hear one story you hear them all. Damsel in distress, prince turns all heroic, saves her, and they live happily ever after. The end. Sure, a dairy farm produces milk and a grain farm produces crops, but what happens on that farm? All farms are different and unique to one another, and each farmer does something different.
Talk about what YOU do on YOUR farm and WHY you do it.
If consumers aren’t talking to farmers about their food and agricultural practices, who are they talking to? Sometimes taking that first step into agvocating may be scary. But, I can assure you it is worth it.
Nicole Krumrie is a student at the University of Minnesota and works as an intern with the Minnesota Corn Growers Association.