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I had the privilege of attending the 2022 National FFA Convention in Indianapolis with 11 students from Pymatuning Valley FFA.
On Friday morning, we attended the FFA 4th General Session where proficiency awards were presented to students, and Ohio had several award recipients. As part of this session, the National FFA Eastern Region Vice President Mallory White gave her retiring address that focused on “Forgotten Farmers.”
White’s address was probably one of the best I have ever heard, and it’s one that resonated with me at a level that left tears in my eyes. Throughout her travels as vice president, she visited farms and talked with many farmers. When discussing concerns in the agricultural industry, one farmer put his head down and admitted to her that he felt forgotten in this world.
Forgotten. Take a moment and let that sink in. Like most of you, I have felt forgotten more than once in my life, and that feeling is a lonely hurt. Unfortunately, for farmers, feeling forgotten is very common. Consumers are quick to make demands and criticize an industry they are completely disconnected from based on feelings and misleading information rather than sound science, not to mention over-regulation, limited farm programs, outrageous farm input costs, no control of market prices, and in general, there tends to be a negative perception of the industry — that even sometimes those of us in the industry tend to inadvertently feed.
White also mentioned the number of farmers she has heard say, “I’m just a farmer” and the number of people involved in FFA that have said the organization is “not just for farmers.” I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve heard someone answer “I’m just a farmer” nor can I count the number of times I’ve said that the Farm Bureau “isn’t just for farmers.” Farmers are the backbone of this country. They account for less than 2% of the population and yet, they feed and clothe the world. Yes, the world. U.S. farmers are the leading agricultural exporter in the world. We couldn’t live without farmers, yet here they are feeling forgotten and talked about as if they are less — even if it is unintentional.
The words we speak have more impact than we realize, and I think we could all benefit from a little more positivity in our lives. So farmers, own your critical role in this world. Proudly state that you are indeed a farmer. There is nothing more honorable, impactful or important than being a farmer. For the rest of us, focus on being inclusive, and a little less exclusive. White stated that instead of saying FFA is “not just for farmers” or “it’s so much more than that” say, “FFA is for farming, AND science, technology, business and leadership.”
I’m going to transition my “Farm Bureau isn’t just for farmers” to “Farm Bureau is for farmers, businesses, consumers, community leaders and anyone who believes in our mission of advancing agriculture and strengthening our communities.”
As for farmers feeling forgotten, always remember there are people (and organizations) out there fighting to ensure farmers and agriculture are NEVER forgotten. Personally, it’s the one and only reason that I do what I do. Farmers are the reason I continue my career with Farm Bureau. The future of agriculture is the reason behind all that we do as an organization.
We see you. We care about you. We are fighting for you!
Submitted by Mandy Orahood, the Ohio Farm Bureau organization director serving Ashtabula, Geauga, Lake and Trumbull counties.
OFBF Mission: Working together for Ohio farmers to advance agriculture and strengthen our communities.
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