LAST week, a new public-relations campaign about agriculture got off to a splashy start. With full-page ads in newspapers and panel discussions live-streamed on the Internet, the newly formed U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance began what it called a bid to “reshape the dialogue” about the American food supply.

'When did agriculture become a dirty word?' the Alliance asks on its Web site.

Chris Galen, a founding member of the group and head of communications for the National Milk Producers Federation, said, 'There is a feeling across the board in agriculture that Americans have concerns about the food supply, and those are best addressed by farmers.'

To assure Americans that food is safe, abundant and affordable, farmers can use their voices and faces to fight the label “Big Ag,” the organization’s leaders say. But the group’s members include the largest agriculture marketing groups in the country, with billions of dollars to spend. They include the American Egg Board ('The Incredible Edible Egg') and the National Pork Board ('The Other White Meat').

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