Filed under: Ag education, Ag promotion, Farm Bureau, Minnesota, Politicians, Politics | Tags: Agriculture education, Farm Bureau, farm bureau federation, farm bureau members, Minnesota, minnesota department of natural resources, minnesota farm bureau, minnesota farm bureau federation, minnesota pollution control, politicians, politics
It’s been a long week. But one of the most interesting days I had this week was spent in St.Paul at the Farm Bureau Council of County Presidents meeting.
Each year the Minnesota farm Bureau’s county presidents get together to find out what is going on in our state and national politics. We have people from many different state, and if we can get them, federal organizations come in and brief us on the things happening in their area. It is a chance to get to know each other and to find out about issues we will be dealing with. Below is a picture of myself with some area Farm Bureau members as we greet our State Senator Bill Weber.The Minnesota Farm Bureau Federation (MFBF) recently held the Minnesota Farm Bureau Council of County Presidents meeting on February 5 at the University Club in St. Paul with 120 Farm Bureau leaders, elected and appointed officials in attendance. County Farm Bureau presidents heard from state legislators, as well as Minnesota Agriculture Water Resources Center Executive Director Warren Formo, Minnesota Board of Animal Health Executive Director Dr. Bill Hartman, Minnesota Department of Revenue Commissioner Myron Frans, Minnesota State Colleges and Universities Vice Chancellor for Academic and Student Affairs Douglas Knowlton, Minnesota Pollution Control Agency Commissioner John Stine, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Deputy Commissioner Dave Schad, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Policy and Government Relations Director Bob Meier and Minnesota Department of Agriculture Deputy Commissioner Jim Boerboom. Pictured left to right are Dave Van Loh-Minnesota Farm Bureau District III director, Kevin Bock-Redwood County Farm Bureau vice president, Mike Wojahn-Cottonwood County Farm Bureau president, Senator Bill Weber (R-Luverne), Susan Hansberger-Nobles County Farm Bureau, Tim Hansberger-Nobles County Farm Bureau president and Rachel Daberkow-Jackson County Farm Bureau president.
Filed under: Ag education, Farm, Farm Bureau, Minnesota, Politicians | Tags: Agriculture education, county presidents, farm, Farm Bureau, farmers and ranchers, Food, Minnesota, minnesota department of natural resources, minnesota farm bureau, minnesota pollution control, minnesota pollution control agency, politics
It is mid February and time again for the Minnesota Farm Bureau Council of County Presidents.
I made my way to the Council of Presidents meeting a bit earlier this year, to get there in time for the Media Training Session. It is a way for those of us who speak for the farmer to get a bit of a heads up on what to expect when someone sticks a microphone in your face and expects you to have an answer.
We’ve known for sometime now that the people who eat the food we produce do trust the farmer, the problem is that farmers and the consumer do not always speak the same language. In that end, the U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance (http://www.fooddialogues.com/?gclid=CMvomJ_eka4CFca8Kgod1CfEJQ), has started a dialogue with consumers and is tracking what the consumer wants, and how to best respond to that desire. We spent some time finding out what they have learned in their study of consumer and farmer interactions.
We were encouraged to use 4 steps to be a productive part of the conversation, they are part of the acronym EASE:
- Engage, Start the conversation.
- Acknowledge, Acknowledge people’s questions and concerns.
- Share, Talk about meaningful details about how you grow food.
- Earn Trust, Make it clear that you want to earn their trust.
We also spent some time with staff members who handed us some really tough questions which we were expected to answer as if we were in front of a TV camera. We then talked about the answers and helped each other learn to do a better job.
After a break for lunch we were briefed by officers of several state departments which have an affect on farming and ranching. There were spokes people from the National Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), the Board of Water and Soil Resources, the Minnesota Ag Water and Resources Center, The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA), Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, the Board of Animal Health and the Minnesota Department of Agriculture. We also got legislative updates from staffers of the Minnesota Farm Bureau as well as a heads up on several rule changes that will affect agriculture from regulatory agencies. All of this so we could learn how to engage in the farmer-consumer dialogue.
The afternoon was over and it was now time to get to work as many members of the Minnesota State House and Senate joined us for dinner. We did a bit of mingling and got to talk to many of those who are making the laws that affect us all. Good training for future visits with our elected leaders.
That was a full day. By the time you drive to St. Paul, attend the meetings and meals and drive home you have spent a lot of time away from home. Worth it, Yes. I always learn more every time I attend. Hopefully I’ll be able to go back again next year.
Filed under: Ag education, Ag promotion, Animal care, Farm, farm animals, Farm Bureau, fertilizer, Minnesota, P & E, rain, wind | Tags: Agriculture education, farm, Farm Bureau, Minnesota, minnesota farm bureau, rain, wind
At our last Minnesota Farm Bureau Promotion and Education conference we had a variety of speakers, but one had a quote from a friend that stuck. She was talking about how she was always so nervous when she started to talk to groups and how the butterflies in her stomach were really bothering her. She mentioned this to another, more experienced, speaker and the response was “Butterflies mean you care.”
I remember well some of my butterfly episodes in my early years. They were so strong that it made it hard for me to even consider stepping up in front of people. What may have finally gotten the butterflies under control was my first time on stage in a community play. That day I got to pretend I was someone else. It was not me on stage, but the character I portrayed.
The butterfly day that hit me hardest was when I was asked to give a short explanation on the words of Christ from the cross. I was asked to speak on “My God, my God, Why have you forsaken me?” I only remember a bit of what I said that day, but I do remember this, when I was done I could hardly see because of the emotion I had dredged up. I felt what it meant to be forsaken. I hope my audience did too.
We in agriculture have for many years been ignored. We were the left behind, those who could not cut it in the “real” world. The feeling was that those who farmed were a bit stupid to stay in a job where you worked so hard for so little. For many of us that could not be further from the truth.
I have lived and seen the caring attitude of those who are on the farm. Yes, some of our ways at times may seem a bit callous, but if you get to know us you will know we do really care, and our outside attitude is to, at times, hide the tears.
I have cried over many pets in my life, and vowed to never have a dog on my farm, because I could not stand the thought of what I would feel if they died on the busy highway that runs so near to our house. We do have cats however, I try not to get too close to them, but still they can hurt you. We lost two half grown kittens this last week to accidents, one was to me very tragic and senseless.
The caring extends beyond animals in our care, it extends also to the land. I remember well the gullies that used to form after a rain storm in some of our fields. Soil moving off of the farm due to wind or water erosion really bothered me. I can say with pride that the changes we have made in our farming practices have nearly eliminated erosion due to wind and water. It is something I want to continue to improve.
When I think of some of the things that we used to do 50 years ago, it makes me very upset. Back then we did not understand what we were doing. Some of the early years of pesticide, herbicide and fertilizer use were indeed wild. Todays farmer is trained in the use of farm chemicals and gets tested on a regular schedule to make sure the rules are followed. No fertilizer or chemical is spread on the land without an understanding of what is needed. We do soil tests and hire consultants so we can get the most out of every input we use while doing no harm.
We live on the land, we want our children to live on the land, we would knowingly do nothing to harm the land we live on. Those who knowingly do harm to the animals or land in their care are not people we need in farming. We do care about what we are doing. The butterflies are there.