Last week I went to Michigan Farm Bureau’s Winter Commodity Meeting. In this meeting were representatives from each commodity from throughout the state. Various speakers and guests talked about a lot of the issues facing agriculture today and in the future. Everything from antibiotic resistant bacteria to global warming to water laws to immigrant labor and antibiotic restrictions were discussed throughout the course of the two days.
By the end of the conference I was overloaded with information. I felt like I was back in college taking a full course load. Don’t get me wrong, I learned a lot and I really enjoyed the topics and the speakers. But I walked out of the room feeling defeated. Being a young person in agriculture and hearing all of these issues that we have coming our way is overwhelming.
Sometimes it doesn’t exactly build confidence knowing we have a huge uphill battle to fight. I’m only beginning my career as a dairy farmer, and I know the issues will only continue to get worse or compound. That makes thinking about the future scary and mind-boggling. It leaves more questions than answers with the first one being, “What do we do?”
After a night of sleep, I started to reflect on all of these issues facing agriculture and dairy farming today. Now more than ever, we need to stick together. The issues will only get more challenging as time goes on and as a group we need to have one voice. Farmers are amazing. We volunteer for hard work, stress, unpredictable futures and it’s all in the name of love. We love our farms and our way of life.
We need to share this love with the people making our laws, enforcing them and the consumers who buy our products. The time to work hard on our country roads is gone, and we cannot spend our lives hiding on the farm. It doesn’t matter how you do it – online, tours or by planning events in populated areas. We all need to put the time in because if we don’t, we will have people who don’t understand our livelihood telling us what to do.
Believe me, there are a lot of people out there willing to “tell our story” for us if we don’t step up to the plate. The story they want to tell isn’t the truth but they don’t know any better and often they don’t care. If we don’t put the effort in now, the future of our children coming back to the farm will be compromised as well.
With that I challenge you to do something to help promote agriculture. If we all put in a few hours a year, you might be amazed at the people we can touch and how interested they really are in hearing your story.