Monday, September 22, 2014


Agriculture is a very noble profession whose population goes unheralded and most times unnoticed. The farmers and ranchers that make up this demographic are not looking for accolades. They just want to do their job the best they know how on the land they love.

In publications that I have looked at over the years, farmers and ranchers have a public trust rating of roughly eighty percent. One of the few people higher than them is their wives. The people that ensure there is plenty to eat without fear is still looked on favorably with our urban cousins.

I wonder, if farmers and ranchers are so trustworthy, why don’t they have representation on different committees that are working to make rules and policy in agriculture?

About a month ago I saw a post on Facebook that brought to my awareness the first annual New York Times Food for Tomorrow conference. The title of the conference is “Farm Better. Eat Better. Feed the World.” Great, where do I sign up?

However, farmers are not welcome! Do you know what a “C-suite executive is?”

I didn’t either; I had to do a web search for it. It turns out that it refers to executives of companies whose title begins with a “C” such as CEO, CFO, etc. Well this seems great; farmers should be able to tell their story to the power brokers of multimillion dollar companies that can have influence on the public.

However, farmers are not on the agenda!

I’m sure that the 200 plus experts that were invited will be able to use their expertise to help make sensible headway into issues that agriculture is trying to deal with. I’m sure that these invited experts such as “chefs, researchers, N.G.O. (Non Government Organization) leaders, and important thinkers” will solve our problems.

Where are the farmers?

I wrote both a letter to the NY Times addressing this conference and sent an email to the organizers trying to figure out how solutions can be vetted without a farmer presence. In almost a month I still have no reply from either.

If farmers and ranchers have about an 80% trust level with the public you would think their representation at this conference would be valued. NOPE!

This trend is happening everyplace agriculture should have a seat at the table. On another FB post I saw another meeting, this time by a more credible organization, the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). The meeting is titled “The International Symposium on Agroecology for Food and Nutrition Security.”

Not only did they develop a brand new term that farmers and ranchers will have to deal with (Agroecology) but they also designated this as “scientific” to keep real agriculture from having representation.

This is an elite club of anti-agriculture-as-we-know-it club having a small get together in Rome. What’s even more interesting is the person representing the greatest force in global agriculture, the United States, is a doctor from the University of California at San Francisco.

U.S. agriculture should really be pleased with our selected representative.

On a topic more close to me is the absence of agriculture representation for commercial UAS (Unmanned Air Systems) members to make rules. I have been advocating for a seat at the FAA table since 2007 and there is still representation.

All of this is very concerning to me and definitely should be to you!

I won’t go so far as calling the lack of farmers and ranchers at agriculture meetings designed to find solutions to problems a conspiracy, but I’m close. In researching items for this article I did realize we’ve been hijacked though.

Not only is the population of farmers and ranchers dwindling but our name and profession is being systematically wiped out electronically. The images of fuzzy bunnies and twitter birds flying around a Matilda looking lass holding a bunch of carrots or a John Denver-esque hippie dude in overalls and a couple of critters in the background is what you find.

The majority of the public adores us and our profession. We are looked upon as being an extension of our
forefathers in being rugged and roughing it. We represent hard work and clean living. The word “resiliency” should have a picture of someone in agriculture beside it in the dictionary.

However, we’ve faltered. Agriculture has turned a blind eye to standing up for ourselves. We find all kinds of excuses to why we won’t find the time to be proactive, utilize social media, and or serve as a volunteer for an organization.

Yes, the world will still need food. Yes, we have the expertise to grow it well and responsibly. But do you have the backbone to demand the change to have a seat at the table that we tout so much as to filling with our commodities? It's time for you to get up so agriculture can sit!