Editor's note: The following commentary was written by Mike Barnett, Director of Publications for the Texas Farm Bureau and published at the Texas Agriculture Talks website.
Food is full of chemicals, meat is pumped with hormones, the rights of food animals are trampled and genetically-altered crops will kill us all if industrial agriculture remains unfettered and factory farms continue rolling.
My blogging partner recently wrote about labels and agriculture, and it’s true—conventional agriculture is being defined by activists who have some bone to pick with modern farming and ranching methods.
And it’s wearing down their target—the consumer, I like to call them customers—who buy the food Texas farmers and ranchers grow.
Those customers want to know who grows their food, and where and how it is grown. And they are being told—by people with an agenda who have never set foot on a farm and ranch—because agriculture largely remains silent.
Why? I’m not sure.
Maybe farmers and ranchers think someone else will do it.
Maybe farmers and ranchers are uncomfortable talking about themselves.
Maybe farmers and ranchers think they can’t make a difference in a loud and noisy world.
Let me be frank. It has to start with YOU. When you join with others, WE can make a difference. But we ALL—farmers and ranchers and all of us who enjoy the fruits of conventional agriculture—have to do a little work.
And we don’t have to shout our cause. We will be more effective if we take the approach of Cesar Millan, leader of the pack of the popular series The Dog Whisperer.
Millan doesn’t shout at his problems. He uses a calmed, reasoned approach that is built on mutual expectations to build trust. Once trust is achieved, desired behaviors follow.
Agriculture can take a big lesson from “the dog whisperer.” Meet the expectations of our customers. Build trust. Have expectations of our customers in return.
Be an Ag Whisperer and agriculture will solve its image problem.
Let’s get started.