Every year that we farm, I see more and more of a need to tell our story. More than ever, society is interested in where its food comes from. They care that what they're consuming is safe and healthy, and they care that we took good care of our animals and our environment in the process of making it for them. As the world around us grows and changes, it is obvious that most people are significantly more distanced from production agriculture than the generations before us.
I care that my friends and family want to know what they're eating. And more than anything, I care that if one of them wants to lead a vegan lifestyle, it's because they have personal reasons for believing it's best for their body, and NOT because they think we don't treat our animals well. We (and so many other farmers around us) work so hard to make sure that our animals are safe and healthy, and that in turn, they produce a safe, wholesome, nutritious and delicious product. And I believe it's important for consumers to know that!
After a few sessions of media training provided to me by United Dairy Industry of Michigan, I have developed a much greater interest in playing the role of "teacher." I've come to understand that many people within our own industry do not quite grasp the need that society has from us, the producers, right now. Everything that we do, we do with conviction. But it's not always easy to explain why. I wholeheartedly believe that it's important to give our animals an antibiotic to make them healthy when they need it, but it's hard for some people to understand that's a normal practice on a dairy farm! I want to get better at telling this story, and that's what I'm looking for from Agvocacy 2.0. More than anything, I want people to walk in my shoes, and see with their own eyes what dairy farming is all about. And at the end of it, I want them to feel good about what they're putting on their family's dinner table each night.
My husband and I are full-time dairy farmers milking 300 cows twice per day, and farming 1,500 acres of corn, soybeans, and alfalfa (most of which is used for feed).
UPDATE (Aug. 26): The contest has now ended. Thank you for voting for your favorite. Congratulations to the winner of the 2013 AgChat Scholarship, Anna Leigh Peek.