In 19 years of answering reporters’ questions about farming, I’ve had some doozies. A favorite: the young reporter who was certain he had a scoop on a horrible “crop disaster.” The lush, green cornfields he’d seen in July had mysteriously turned dry and brown by November. His genuine question: “What happened?”
Well, there’s been an uptick in the “what happened” questions of late, but not about crops. They’re about what happened Nov. 8.
President Donald Trump’s election put Ohio and Farm Bureau on the radar for national news organizations. So far, The New York Times, NBC News and Politico have called to ask what farmers think about the president’s views on trade, immigration and other policies. However, their curiosity goes deeper. They’re intrigued by the rural Americans who swept Trump into office.
These experienced reporters wanted insight, someone who could interpret what it means to be rural and more specifically a farmer. They asked for explanations, but what they need are introductions.
Mainstream media won’t be equipped to ponder your politics until they are exposed to your culture, a culture rooted in personal responsibility, civic duty, a connection to nature and a bond with generations past and future…and, a passion for defending those values. Good reporters will come to appreciate that in farm country, you can’t understand the politics until you understand the people.
Are you willing to help? When USA Today or the Wall Street Journal calls me, can I call you? Consider it. The national media seems inclined to correct their mistake of ignoring the heartland. We have a unique opportunity to help shape their upcoming narrative. We’ll have some successes and some missteps with the newly agri-curious, but I can think of no one better to put a face on rural America than the members of Ohio Farm Bureau.
Farm Bureau members who would like to be added to my call list, email me at [email protected] or call 614-246-8241.
Caption: Joe Cornely, left, with Ohio media in Washington, D.C.