Friday, March 23, 2012

Taking Everything Too Seriously....

So passions a great thing right? Absolutely!!
Maybe not.
Recent events made me wonder why we as humans almost always go over board. What in our DNA causes us to take a passion and turn it into an obsession? We've all met those folks. They look normal, but ask the wrong/right question, and it's off to the races in the woods just outside of Obsessiveville. We can get so caught up in the cause that we lose focus and why the cause is important.
A recent post on the Truth About Agriculture page on Face book really got to me. The poster was asking a farmers thoughts and perspective on the dangers and use of GMO wheat and Monsanto.........
An important detail, there are no GMO varieties of wheat available. None.... The fact that there were different varieties was a surprise as well. But I don't think there was any question that that this person was anything less than earnest in their question. But was the passion was misguided?
What happens when we let ourselves get swept away on the wave of concern? I'm not exactly sure, but there are a few things I know. People and their passions will always be a challenge for every walk of life. Wars are fought because of passions, Religions go to war and kill each other because they feel passionate. We tend to take all of our human walk to extremes.
So sometimes it good to get a good handle on our place in the universe. We are but a speck, on a tiny planet, in a medium sized solar system, in a medium sized galaxy, surrounded by billions of other galaxies. In the big picture of the universe, we are incredibly insignificant. Doesn't that mean we are entirely insignificant?
Not by any means. We should strive each day to make life better for everyone and everything around us.
I was reminded of that this past week at youth group when the "Why are we here?" question was asked. A wise young lady answered,"we are here to glorify God".
Are we using whatever passion we possess to do that? Farming/agvocacy or whatever our calling is.
If we let the passion of any of our causes get too important, then maybe we are taking it too serious.
Passion is awesome, but temper it with knowledge, understanding, and ultimately a caring heart. The world will be a better place.

Friday, March 16, 2012

An Opportunity To Tell Our Story?

I'm a big fan of farm tours. BIG fan. With so many so removed from from what it takes to produce food, tours give us a great opportunity to show folks what we do. But what if they won't show up? Time to get creative.
Ag United of South Dakota sponsors a Breakfast On The Farm in multiple locations every summer. Crowds from 400 to 1000 show up for the free feed. Tour guides set up at different locations answer questions, and it's a great experience.I've talked antibiotic use, cull cows, and ionophores at these events.
But how about WAY out of the box?
In a week or so, the Central Plains Dairy Expo comes to Sioux Falls. The kickoff event is a concert by Sawyer Brown. The floor area of the arena is going to be occupied by dairy producers and dairy industry people. The seating in the rest of the place? For a $10 dollar donation to Feeding South Dakota, the general public gets to come to the concert. They get to interact with people from the dairy industry, and meet "real" producers.
Now, granted, Sioux Falls isn't a huge metropolis, as removed from the ag community as some areas, but it is still a great way to let folks see our industry,
Every year we see a lot of people, mainly kids, coming through the trade show to get a glimpse of what the dairy industry looks like. We need to take advantage of these opportunities. They are coming to us!
So if at a trade show, you see someone wandering around, slightly lost, a little bewildered, or just confused, step up. It might be your moment to AGVOCATE.  

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Agvocate or Farm Broadcaster?

When I first started this blog, it was because of a conversation with a young lady named Megan. We talked about what happens on the farm, and did it in a fashion that hopefully was interesting to Megan. I tried to follow Megan's lead, and address what she thought was important. To Megan's credit, she was a very intelligent young lady with good questions and comprehension. It made for a really cool conversation. Since that time, I've watched as this part of agvocacy has exploded. That's what I'm using social media for, not exclusively mind you, but for the outreach part of the message. So are others. Folks are trying to reach out. It's a really good thing.
But what is the message?
A recent blog I wrote reminded the ag community that some of the audience is in the lurkers. But are we putting a message out there that they would appreciate?  Several of the folks a follow on twitter are notorious for the amount of tweets that they turn out about all things ag. Huge amounts of tweets. Many of the tweets, only understandable to someone steeped in ag. 
But what if 90% of them mean nothing to someone outside of ag? Is that a problem? We can step into our "farm speak" so easily that it makes it impossible for a non-ag person to follow. Think of some of the terms that we use regularly. Triple stack, ADG, genomics, and multiple links make the messages hard to follow for the non-ag folks in the audience. Not that we shouldn't use those terms, but be aware.
Think about the lurkers when you have an interaction. Are they going to get engaged with you in what you are discussing. Not every conversation needs to be for them, but neither can we afford to forget them.