As summer comes to an end and harvest in the South Plains begins, farmers and ranchers gathered around farm tables neatly set with bright sunflowers and colorful glasses of various assortments to discuss a rising issue: the need for agricultural advocates. 

Today, the public is nearly three generations removed from the farm or ranch. Agriculture’s story is regularly being told incorrectly: resulting in misinformation surrounding food production to spread. Taking a step to bridge this gap, Texas Corn Producers (TCP) hosted an elegant dinner at grain silos in Plainview in mid-Sept.

The evening focused on encouraging farmers and ranchers to tell their story. From agriculturists telling their stories and working together, they can help decrease the disconnect between consumers and the food they consume. Regardless of growing row crops, or raising dairy or beef cattle, it’s important agriculturists work cohesively to share agriculture’s story – answering the questions consumers have and building their trust in where their food comes from.

Terra James, farm wife, mom and chef of the meal, kicked off the evening by welcoming guests. She discussed the different commodities it took to make the dinner possible. Without the corn oil used to cook the meal, the cotton in the buffalo plaid dinner napkins, prime rib beef entrée or dairy products in the asiago black truffle butter mashed potatoes, the meal wouldn’t have been possible.

Farmers and ranchers need to continue to tell their story and work together as the different commodities did for the dinner. By being better advocates for the agricultural industry as a whole, agriculturists can help consumers sort through the myths and misinformation surrounding the industry, James said.

As guests moved to dessert, Beckah Hunt, a farm mom and wife, introduced CommonGround volunteers and shared what the organization does. CommonGround is a grassroots volunteer organization of female farmers who serve as a resource to help answer consumers’ questions regarding food, farming and ranching. Jaimie Davis of Muleshoe and Elsie Wetzel of Tom Bean volunteered at the event to share their personal experiences as agricultural advocates.

Hunt shared the importance of dedicating time outside of the farm or ranch to speak up for the industry. Through volunteering with organizations like CommonGround, sharing agriculture’s story on social media platforms or simply advocating in existing circles in the community, farmers and ranchers can make a significant difference in the industry.

To end the evening Andrea Glenn, rancher and wife, thanked guests for attending Dinner at the Silos and emphasized the urgency of sharing agriculture’s story. Glenn also discussed ways for farmers and ranchers to get involved through signing up to be a part of CommonGround and participating in TCPA’s Stand network. Stand allows both male and female farmers the opportunity to get involved in policy matters: allowing corn farmers to be heard on the local, state and national levels. Glenn also discussed the vision she and others share in hosting area influencers, elected officials, and other consumers at a similar event next year to offer the opportunity to glean insight on agriculture firsthand from the region’s farmers and ranchers.

From telling the family farm or ranch story, the gap between the public and agriculture can be closed. A story evokes questions that lead to answers and results in positive information being told. Agriculture’s story matters, so why not tell it?

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