Snacks at the Table - March 13, 2019 - Food Dialogues

Snacks at the Table - March 13, 2019

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Words that Create Worlds
By Chip Bowling, U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance Chairman

Recently, U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance held its board meeting in conjunction with Commodity Classic where 8,000 farmers and agribusiness leaders gathered for America’s largest farmer-led conference. Having been to Commodity Classic the past 15 years, this annual gathering feels somewhat like a homecoming. It’s a neat opportunity for fellowship and to interact with current and former farmer leaders within the commodity groups.

During our board meeting with our farmer-led board, I addressed a couple topics that we in agriculture sometimes flinch when hearing – climate and sustainability. In our exchange with consumers or other farm groups, we often talk past each other in our words. This meeting was an opportunity to reflect and discuss how might we better work together as leaders to embrace words and meet our various audiences where they are in their own journey on learning and understanding.

With climate change becoming part of everyday nomenclature, it’s used by global leaders, by media and society as a whole. Recognizing that we aren’t always connected to this word, how might we better engage around this topic? To you climate adaptation or climate resiliency may resonate more. When it comes to our growing season, we’re planting earlier every year. We’re using corn and soybeans with longer maturities, and we have more days of heat and sunlight. This very topic spurred National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) to establish a climate taskforce. It’s an opportunity for USFRA to help farmers lead this conversation, define this topic for food and agriculture stakeholders and start to bridge the divide.

Similarly, with sustainability, this words goes hand and hand with stewardship. In order to advance sustainability, you first need stewardship, which are the values and commitment to leave your land or business in better condition for the next generation. On most farms, sustainability doesn’t just mean environmental impact. To us, it’s also sustaining our family farm and implementing different practices and techniques that affect future generations, just like my father and grandfather did for me.

So, as we think about these words that create worlds, it’s critical that we speak the language of our customers but adapt a narrative that’s comfortable to us. We have so many positive stories to share and examples of continuous improvement, so let’s be at the forefront in showing how we’re the solution for climate and sustainability. 


Chip Bowling, U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance Chairman

Farm, Food, Facts Featured on Dr. Oz

It’s been a pleasure to work with SupermarketGuru Phil Lempert, who hosts our Farm, Food, Facts podcast. He recently joined The Dr. Oz Show to discuss the fishing/agriculture industries and set the record straight about today’s food value chain. Catch Phil’s mention of our Farm, Food, Facts podcast at 10-minutes into the interview. He shares, “What farmers, ranchers and fisherman all want is to give us transparency.” Additionally, that “We’re given good nutrition throughout the country.”

Subscribe to Farm, Food, Facts on iTunes at

Watch Facebook Live of SXSW Ag Tech Panel

This week U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance organized a SXSW panel as part of the Food Convergence Track titled “Ag Tech Shaping the Future of Farming.” In partnership with National Pork Board and National Corn Growers Association, this was a prestigious opportunity with only 15 percent of the 4,400 proposals accepted. 

During the panel, it was standing room only with more than 150 attendees. USFRA also did a Facebook Live that to date has reached more than 10,000 people, 2,700 views and 420 social media engagements. The panelists did a great job of highlighting how the modern farm is more sustainable than ever before (through Ag Tech innovations). Multiple questions during the Q&A brought to life the audience’s clear interest in today’s food/agriculture. They had questions related to gene editing, pesticide use, and conventional/organic practices, among other topics. 

Some key takeaways, included:

  • “When we think about new technologies to implement on our farm, we consider the 3 Es of ethical, environmental and economic. We also consider what consumers want when we make decisions.” Randy Spronk, Minnesota pig and crop farmer
  • “Farmers are the original entrepreneurs. I’ve worked with several AgTech startups founded by farmers who find issues on the farm and want to solve it. They’re open and aware of how technology can create efficiencies and transparency.” Megan Vollstedt, Iowa AgriTech Accelerator
  • “With advancements in traceability, consumers have a better understanding of how food is produced. Instead of picking one size fits all labels like organic or conventional, you’ll see that different farming practices all impact sustainability.” Darren Anderson, Ph.D., Vive Crop Protection
  • “Farmers want to share their story. We’re open to showing you new ag innovations and answering your questions to be more transparent. All of us are consumers of food and care about what we put in our bodies.” Alex Heine, Quantified Ag

To further the momentum, we’re asking all members to share the following Facebook Live and Twitter Post on your social channels. Additionally, did a recap of the panel.

A Big Welcome to Dr. Nick Goeser 

U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance recently hired Dr. Nick Goeser as Vice President, Sustainability Sciences and Strategy. In his Q&A following Commodity Classic, Nick shares how he engaged with those on the front lines of innovation (farmers!) and how agriculture can be recognized for its use of sustainable science and data solutions.

He said, “The need for translating science into practical application is real and resonated in almost every conversation. Our new Science to Sense-Making program and Science Advisory Council addresses exactly this by translating the most credible and robust science into actionable recommendations for farmers. I also found a desire for common-language terms that help bring people together on environmental, economic and social sustainability outcomes.”

Please welcome Nick and make sure to read his piece on LinkedIn as well. You can also catch Nick in his recent interview with Phil Lempert on USFRA’s Farm, Food, Facts podcast

Erin Fitzgerald Featured on Agri-Pulse Open Mic 

During Commodity Classic, our CEO Erin Fitzgerald was featured on Agri-Pulse’s Open Mic segment. In her interview, she spoke with host Jeff Nalley about the tremendous disparity between what’s being said about food production and its real environmental impact.

Erin shared, “Agriculture is the solution of both carbon and water stewardship. We’re a filter and serve as a soil bank to offset carbon.” It’s in opportunity to redirect attention to areas where all consumers can play a role in environmental stewardship. USFRA’s new Science to Sense-Making program and Honor the Harvest Forum was also discussed in the interview.


Culver’s Employee Meeting Highlights Farmers

In February, Culver’s Restaurant held an employee meeting, that included CEO Joe Koss and COO Jeff Bonner, focused on today’s farming. They featured USFRA’s 360 videos that give a first-hand experience inside the barn. Additionally, New Mexico cattle rancher and USFRA Sustainability Officer Cassidy Johnston spoke with the Culver’s team about her background as a cattle rancher and the importance of consumers learning more about where their food comes from.

Their team shared, “The two people that asked the most questions were actually Culver’s CEO and COO. Cassidy engaged the group and we all learned a lot.” Culver’s has 700 restaurants in 25 states, and their Thank you Farmers Project contributes to the success on the next generation of Ag Leaders. 


Upcoming Events

Do you have an upcoming event that you would like help promoting? Email Paul Murphy-Spooner at with the event information and USFRA will help you raise awareness via our social media and communications channels.

We’re always looking to feature our partners, supporters or farmers/ranchers who find interesting ways to inform thought leaders and influencers about today’s agriculture, so please reach out and share your stories with us!