USFRA would like to take a moment to acknowledge the contributions of our first class of Faces of Farming & Ranching. During the inaugural year of the Faces program, Katie Pratt (Illinois), Chris Chinn (Missouri), Will Gilmer (Alabama) and Bo Stone (North Carolina) shared stories and experiences on a national stage and helped shift conversations about food production. They helped set the record straight about the way we feed our nation.
 
These farmers put real faces on the American agriculture industry. From participating in Food Dialogues panels and other events, to weighing in on important issues, they answered your questions about how food is grown and raised. These four individuals made significant contributions to agriculture; all while still running their farms and raising their families. Here are a few highlights…
 
Katie Pratt and Chris Chinn, both moms and farmers, hosted a back to school Twitter chat to help parents navigate through key food issues, and provided on-farm expertise and tips on nutritional food planning, packing lunches and snacks. Food topics like organic, cage free, grass fed, and antibiotic free get a lot of attention, and Katie and Chris helped parents understand what they mean, and how they impact their families’ health. Chris participated in a restaurant leadership conference, and both Katie and Chris went on a Nutrition Month radio media tour.

Bo Stone talked about the important issue of farm size in an opinion piece, “Big Farms Aren’t Bad,” that was published on CNN Eatocracy. Bo wrote, “I am proud of the corn, wheat and soybeans we grow on my 2,300-acre family farm. We grow sweet corn and strawberries to sell at the roadside market and also raise hogs and cows. And I feel good about the role we play in food production in our community and well beyond.” He added, “Big or small, what’s the difference? In America, the discussions around food have moved further away from the heart of the matter - growing healthy food - and more toward finding ways to divide us.” Bo was also featured in a CNBC story, “Frankenstates: Winning the agriculture tech war,” where he shared how he uses technology on his farm.
 
Will Gilmer weighed in on antibiotics use on his farm, saying “when antibiotics are deemed necessary for the sake of an animal's health, we have a process that allows us to help the cow while protecting the safety and integrity of the milk that leaves our farm.” He walked readers through the process that he uses on his farm to ensure that the milk he produces is safe. Will also participated in important events, including the IFIC Science Communications Summit and a food blogger dinner in New York.
 
These are just several of the many ways that the Faces of Farming & Ranching answer your questions about how food is grown and raised. Read more here.
 
We’re excited for the second class Faces of Farming & Ranching to join the conversation in 2015! Stay tuned for updates from our new class at fooddialogues.com/faces.