How Do We Build a Better Future while Celebrating Agriculture’s Legacy?
By Erin Fitzgerald, U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance CEO
Author, environmentalist and farmer Wendell Berry once said, “Eating is an Agricultural Act.” For many consumers, eating, cooking and buying food is how they connect with agriculture and today’s farmers and ranchers. I am no exception, being a foodie myself.
In popular culture, we refer to ourselves as the land of milk and honey, a bread basket, amber waves of grain, blessed and bountiful. We even have an entire holiday dedicated to Honoring the Harvest, Thanksgiving. Honoring the Harvest is engrained in who we are as Americans, it is our strength. But I am not certain we know what it means to truly Honor the Harvest in the 21st century.
I have been on a mission to redefine sustainable food systems for the future. For the past decade at Dairy Management, Inc., I guided the dairy industry in tackling its carbon footprint and formed a model for other industries. This brought me closer to the farmers and really humanized their affinity in caring for the land. In this role, I saw how many people in agriculture and food can talk at each other instead of with each other. I learned that there is so much to do to secure the future – and the understanding – of all agriculture in America.
That is why I am excited to begin a journey as CEO of U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance. I’m looking forward to partnering with collaborators who are interested in strengthening a dialogue with the food leaders of tomorrow. With open minds, inclusion and appreciation of our legacy in agriculture and the values of stewardship, I am confident that we can create a diverse and cohesive dinner table. In the coming months, I will be listening to farmers and ranchers, agricultural leadership, food companies, chefs, consumers and storytellers. I invite you to join me and USFRA at the table to have a discussion, because every farmer matters, every acre matters and most importantly, every voice matters.