Find your voice, tell farming story

In a time in which everyone seems to have a voice — especially everyone with a social media account and a keyboard — let’s talk about what it means to truly have a voice.

I have a voice. I have several voices. I have one that makes my kids realize Mama means business. I have one that alerts my husband very quickly when I’m not really “fine.” I have a voice that can calm my cattle and my horse when anything abnormal is happening in their simple lives, such as a simple change in scenery. I have a voice that doesn’t hide when I’m happy, when I’m nervous, emotional or angry.

I’m talking about a different type of voice. I’m talking about a voice that makes me go to work every single day and fight through the long days, the never-ending fight of convincing folks why they need Farm Bureau (and you all do), and why agriculture is so incredibly important to every single person’s life.

I’m talking about a voice that comes from deep in your soul that makes a difference in our world, in someone’s life, not a post on social media that berates others ideas, beliefs, political stances or appearances. I’m talking about a voice that you utilize to share your passion about something, to educate others in a way that doesn’t degrade their intelligence or make them feel less.

I use my voice to be an AGvocate. Now, before the voice in your head says, “Well Mandy, that’s kinda your job,” let me say, it IS my job, but I’ve found it is the reason I am dang good at my job — along with some pretty amazing volunteers. I live and breathe agriculture. I always have. It’s a love that comes from deep in my bones and surrounds my soul, and I love sharing that with others.

Two million farms dot America’s rural landscape. About 98% of those farms are operated by families (which are individuals, family partnerships or family corporations). Even more alarming, those farm and ranch families only account for 2% of the entire population in the United States. 2%! In a time when the other 98% are on average at least three generations removed from the farm and as consumers, they drive the markets and make decisions on how we farm. It is more important than ever that we as an industry stand together and tell our stories.

It is so important that we reach consumers of all ages and backgrounds about today’s agriculture. We have to share our “why” — why we live this lifestyle that isn’t always easy. We have to let people see our operations and show them what really happens day-to-day. We have to take the time to educate people who care about their food and fiber.
And while you’re trying to survive calving season, pruning apple trees, tax prepping, finishing payroll, repairing equipment, running sap lines and the other million things you have to do on your unique operation, just know that Farm Bureau is there when you can’t be.
(Don’t like what Farm Bureau is doing? Use your voice for that too — be the change).
If you aren’t telling your story, someone else will. And they probably found it on Google.

 

Submitted by Mandy Orahood, an organization director for the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation, serving Ashtabula, Geauga, Lake and Trumbull County Farm Bureaus.  She can be reached by email.

 

OFBF Mission: Working together for Ohio farmers to advance agriculture and strengthen our communities.