By Randy Krotz, CEO, U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance

As I prepare to attend this second gathering of food pundits, chefs and other luminaries in the food world at this year’s New York Times Food for Tomorrow, I reflect upon one of my personal highlights from last year’s event. During the panel discussion coordinated by the U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance, Joan Ruskamp, a Nebraska cattle feeder implored the audience, “Please let us be a part of the conversation about food!”

A year later, Joan’s statement from last year still rings true. In fact, it has for the 5 years that USFRA has worked hard to become a staple in these types of discussions. For too long, farmers and ranchers were not a part of the conversations about food, but we’re working to change that – with the goal of helping people understand the sustainable practices used on today’s farms and ranches and discussing the questions and concerns they have about how food in the U.S. is grown. With this goal in mind, several others from agriculture and I will be attending this year’s Food for Tomorrow event at the Stone Barns Center in upstate New York.

And, while I’m pleased to see that farming and ranching is a topic that is woven throughout this year’s agenda, there is no doubt that more can be done to represent all sides of farming and ranching – from the small, organic operation to large, conventional and sustainable farms and ranches. I’m looking forward to the discussions that will take place – on the stage and during breaks and meals. There is so much that can be discovered when we bring all points of view to the table and we keep an open mind about what we have yet to learn.