Q&A: Brandi Buzzard, Kansas rancher and blogger
Brandi Buzzard began speaking out for beef in 2009, when she was an animal science undergraduate at Kansas State University and wrote her first post for a blog called “Buzzard’s Beat,” an effort to correct misconceptions about production agriculture, food safety, and the beef industry.
Over time, Buzzard’s blog has captured the interest of farmers, ranchers, and consumers – and has even led to on-air interviews with cable news channels Fox News, CBS News, and MSNBC, and an invitation to the White House.
Buzzard’s tone has softened since marrying her husband, Hyatt Frobose, a swine reproductive consultant with Gestal – Jyga Technologies, and becoming a mother to daughter Oakley four years ago. But she is always determined to clear the air about agriculture and food production and never, ever backs down from a fight.
SF: As a young mother, you have credibility with your readers.
BB: I get a comment every once in a while that says, “You know, I’m grateful for all the information you share about GMOs and how much we need them in agriculture to keep the world fed.” That solidifies all the effort I’m putting into helping people be confident consumers. And I get a lot of comments that say I’m wrong. I’ve been called a bad mom more times than I can count.
SF: A letter you wrote to Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was a hit.
BB: In 2019 I wrote to her in response to concerns about agriculture in the Green New Deal. That post has had 290,000 views and crashed my blog countless times in a three-day period. Numbers are nice, but people telling me, “I appreciate you teaching us about agriculture or sharing your story of ranching” is the real reward.
SF: Did she respond?
BB: She didn’t have email available outside her district, so Kansas Congressman Roger Marshall gave the letter to her. She did not respond. I wasn’t really surprised, but I was disappointed. I felt like my letter was respectful and while not critical, helped her understand that farmers and ranchers want to be a part of the conversation.
SF: That letter led to a spot on cable news.
BB: I posted the letter on Saturday and the next week heard from MSNBC, wanting to come to my ranch to talk about the Green New Deal. Vaughn Hillyard and two of his crew came out. A blizzard blew in while they were here, but we looked at cows and talked about how ranchers care about the environment because this is where we live and we want to be part of the conversation. We live it every day.
I made them bacon and eggs for breakfast with real milk to drink because I wanted them to eat animal proteins while they were here.
SF: And then you were invited to the White House?
BB: About a month later, the blog post got a resurgence on Facebook. Then, Fox News called me and I did an interview. The president’s office noticed it, and I went to the White House in April. I was in the Roosevelt Room, directly across from the Oval Office, speaking with senior officials of the former Trump administration about how beef is a sustainable solution, and farmers and ranchers care about the environment.
SF: Is it important to bridge a gap between agriculture and policy makers?
BB: We need to understand that people have concerns. Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez did not grow up on a farm and doesn’t know soil management or rotational grazing. If someone in a city is showing interest, we need to listen. We can disagree with them, absolutely. But it’s not reasonable for us to completely shut out the input of people we don’t agree with, and expect those same people to listen to our input when they don’t agree with us. Communication is a two-way highway.
Hometown: Greeley, Kansas
Background: Brandi Buzzard fueled her competitive spirit as a breakaway roper on rodeo teams at Fort Scott Community College and Kansas State University. She graduated from KSU in 2012 with a master’s degree in animal science, joining the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) shortly thereafter as its manager of issues communications and became associate director of issues communications. She joined the Red Angus Association of America communications staff in 2017 and is director of communications and editor of the Red Angus Magazine.