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Talk about food issues

CHERYL TEVIS 02/14/2011 @ 11:12am Cheryl has been an editor at Successful Farming since 1979.

I’ve been urging farmers for three decades to make food issues a main entree on the communications menu.

“The importance of people in agriculture communicating their own message can’t be overemphasized,” I said. “Time and again, it’s been proven that farm folks are their own best spokespersons.”

But farmers took their seat at the table for granted. Their top-notch food products would send a message, right?

Then a funny thing happened while farmers were raising higher-yielding crops and leaner livestock: Americans woke up to the significant role agriculture plays in the U.S., the world, and in the future of the planet. Many don’t understand – or like – what they see.

The importance of speaking out is more urgent today than when I first delivered that message. Fortunately, there are more resources than ever before to help producers promote their contributions to food, fiber, and energy.

National Ag Week

National Agriculture Week, March 13-19, is a great time to spread the word. The 2011 theme is American Agriculture: Your Food, Your Farmer.

Order an Ag Day media kit for print and online from the Agriculture Council of America, or you can download logos, background information, public service announcements, and print advertisements. Visit the Web at www.agday.org or write to Agriculture Council of America, 11020 King Street, Suite 205, Overland Park, KS 66210.

Many schools across the U.S. show the “On the Farm” video and DVD series during National Ag Week. Chris Fesko, a Skaneateles, New York, dairy farmer and former teacher, creates and produces the series (www.fesko.com).

Fesko says she once took a chicken into a Rochester, New York, school for National Ag Day. “I told the kids surprising facts, such as a hen doesn’t need a rooster around to lay eggs,” she says.

As farmers and farm groups prepare for National Ag Week, here are three big-picture talking points:

1. The need for farmers to feed an expanding global population.

2. The responsibility to produce safe, affordable, and nutritious products.

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The Future of Livestock Production