Tell your story
Tell them what you are going to tell them, tell them, and then tell them again.
That is the advice I received in my first speech class in high school. It was good advice then, and I think it is good advice for farmers and ranchers today.
At nearly every farm or ranch meeting I have attended recently, someone has told producers to get out and tell their story. As I am writing this editorial, corn growers, soybeans growers, sorghum growers, and wheat growers are gathered in Texas for the annual Commodity Classic and I am sure they will be told to get out there and tell their story.
Honestly, when they hear this, I imagine a lot of them are thinking to themselves "I told my story already, why do I have to tell it again?"
Mike Geske, president of the Missouri Corn Growers Association, alluded to this in his speech at their annual meeting.
"Why do we have the constant need to defend ethanol?" Geske said. "We address the same misinformation over and over again."
Geske was speaking specifically about the debate over the energy balance for ethanol; but, it is the same for biotechnology and animal welfare. There is plenty of recent science- based information available today that proves the positive energy balance of ethanol but old out-of-date information continues to surface.
"It is time we moved past this issue," Geske said.
Geske is right and I wish we could move on but we can't. There are well-organized groups out there that don't believe in biofuels, don't believe in the benefits of biotechnology, and don't understand animal husbandry. These groups won't let a little bad information get in the way of their agenda.
It is easier for these groups to spread misinformation because they are very seldom put in a position to defend their statements. That job is given to the farmers and ranchers who produce the food, fuel, and fiber this country and the world needs.
The recent food versus fuel debate in this country is a prime example of how misinformation can be used and why agriculture needs to keep addressing the same issues over and over again. At the current price of corn, a box of corn flakes contains about 3 cents worth of corn. Even when corn peaked out at over $6 a bushel there was only about 6 cents worth of corn in a box of corn flakes. The same could be said for most food products with the exception of beef, pork, and chicken.
Here is my advice to anyone who will be telling the story about his or her farm or ranch. Tell them what you are going to tell them, tell them, and then conclude by telling them again.
Doug Rich can be reached by phone at 785-749-5304, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.