Addressing Misperceptions as a Face of Farming & Ranching - Food Dialogues

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Addressing Misperceptions as a Face of Farming & Ranching

As I look back over my two years serving as one of the Faces of Farming & Ranching for the U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance (USFRA), I must say it’s been an exciting experience and one I will never forget. Traveling across the country sharing my story about what I do on the farm has truly been rewarding and eye opening. I am grateful to be a voice for farmers and help the American consumer learn more about how we grow and raise food. Informing those that consume the products we produce is one of the most important responsibilities we can pursue to preserve our livelihood. We care immensely about the sustainability of our land, and it is up to each of us to make sure that every person we meet understands that.

When I reflect on my experience, three takeaways really stick with me.

Every Farmer Has a Story
One of the most gratifying experiences of being a face of agriculture was interacting with the other farmers I served with. Over our two years together, I formed friendships that I know will last a lifetime. It was very intriguing to me to learn how others around the country farm and ranch, what challenges they face and the things we have in common. These interactions have expanded my knowledge about the diversity of agriculture, and it’s a valuable tool I use when sharing the story of our industry.

People are Curious about Agriculture
Having traveled to multiple events around the United States and speaking to many who have little understanding of what farmers and ranchers actually do really opened my eyes. Prior to this role, I spoke to many agriculture groups, but realized I had no experience interacting with people who may not have a favorable opinion of agriculture. Fortunately, most of the people and groups I had the opportunity to speak with were interested in learning about farming from someone who truly lives it every day. I found that almost everyone was willing to listen and interested in hearing my story, which allowed me to improve their understanding and perception of today’s agriculture.

One Conversation can make an Impact…Especially when it’s with Martha Stewart
By far my most intriguing USFRA experience was my trip to the New York Times “Food for Tomorrow” conference. This was one of the most eclectic groups of people I have ever interacted with. I spent two days listening to chefs, policy makers and food industry leaders talk about how they felt agriculture should be. It was an ideological view of how we should farm and produce food. The reality is this – utilizing many of the systems and practices that they champion would not allow us to produce the food necessary to feed our country. During the conference, I had the opportunity to meet Martha Stewart. She was one of the speakers, and by coincidence, I found myself right beside her in line as we went to lunch. I approached her and struck up a 10-minute conversation about my farm in Texas. I explained that I raised turkeys and cattle on a somewhat large scale, and her comment to me was, “I always love meeting real farmers and ranchers”. When we finished the conversation, she took down my name and said if she ever came to Texas she may want to visit my farm. I felt I accomplished my goal of leaving her with a positive impression of what we do on our farm.

As I conclude my term as a Face of Farming & Ranching, I am convinced today more than ever we must tell our story. Today, consumers want to know where their food comes from and how it is produced. They are concerned with animal welfare and the environment just as much as we are, and the key to retaining the confidence of the American consumer is establishing common ground. Having shared my story hundreds of times over the past two years allowed me the opportunity to make a difference and establish real connections. Thank you USFRA for giving me the opportunity to tell the story of American agriculture, and thank you consumers for listening and asking us questions — earning your trust is extremely important to all of us.

Darrell Glaser is a farmer and owner of Bar G and Reveille Turkey Farms in Rogers, Texas. He is part of the Faces of Farming and Ranching program for the U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance.

All opinions expressed are the writer’s own. Funded by one or more checkoff programs.