Posted by Laura Wolf (farmoutloud)
I told you in my last post that in my public speaking class, we had been writing and delivering career speeches. I wrote mine about Agriculture Advocacy, or “Ag”vocacy. I’m not sure if that counts as a “career” per se, but my professor was okay with it, so I went with it.
For a little background, I am majoring in Agricultural Communications and Agricultural Education at Missouri State University (not Mizzou, in case you were wondering). My dream job is to work with professional agriculturists (farmers, ranchers, businesspeople, marketers, etc) to manage the authentic on- and off-line presence of their sector of the agriculture industry. It’s becoming more and more important to be transparent as an industry in order to build and maintain trust in our consumer base, regardless of whether we feel we are doing anything wrong. I would also love to work as an FFA Advisor, expanding the opportunities of upcoming generations of “ag”vocates, or to work for a university extension program, helping farmers to become more efficient and more knowledgeable about new findings and technologies. However, for the purpose of my speech, I went with the communications side – an advocate for agriculture.
Interested? Here it is, for your viewing pleasure: my career speech.
Eating Intelligently: Agriculture Advocates and You
According to Terrence Loose in a recent Yahoo! News article, Agriculture is the number one most useless college major. As an Agricultural Communications student at MSU, I would like to challenge that assertion. Does the agriculture industry have a significant effect on your day to day life? It is the job of agriculture advocates to serve as the voice for food and fiber producers to consumers. Agriculture advocacy is both an engaging job and a career that can truly make a difference.
First, I’ll give you an agriculture advocate’s job description, and then I’ll show you how this career is important to consumers.
Advocates for agriculture, also called public relations professionals, engage in dialogue with producers and consumers alike.
A job description might include things like:
1. Writing press releases
2. Planning corporate events
3. Making sales pitches
4. And even managing the internet presence of a business or public figure through Facebook, Twitter, blogs, and other sites.
Agriculture public relations is all about engagement.
It includes working with farmers to help them tell their story directly. It also involves explaining the science and technology of agriculture to a consumer base that is worldwide and largely generations removed from the family farm.
Agriculture public relations can make a huge difference in how consumers view the companies that have a hand in food and fiber production. I asked earlier about the agriculture industry’s effect on daily life. I would contend that the industry has a significant part in day to day life. To make use of an old cliché, everyone in the world has to eat.
In fact, the relationship you have with your food and its sources is very important. It determines what you eat, where you buy, and how good you feel about what you consume. It may also determine how you vote on ballot issues.
Having a good food relationship depends on the consumer learning enough about how the food is produced, stored, shipped, and cooked to feel confident eating it.
This is where the agriculture advocate comes in. To find out about your food, you might look to a number of sources. You may check out the Food Safety page on Tyson Chicken’s website. Maybe you’ll find a news article that could open your mind to the idea of genetically optimized seed. Perhaps you’ll come across a YouTube video of a local farmer giving a tour of his cattle operation, so you choose to buy beef directly from the farm. All of these are examples of ways agriculture public relations can help consumers make informed decisions when it comes to food.
Public relations professionals in agriculture help us make decisions about our food by providing valuable content online. They also work with producers to help them show their consumer base what really happens on the farm.
The French writer Francois de La Rochefoucauld said,
“To eat is a necessity, but to eat intelligently is an art.”
Will you join me in allowing agriculture advocates to help us eat intelligently?
If consumers eat intelligently, and producers continue to produce intelligently, wouldn’t we have an easier time of it? I think it will take our industry being transparent and open to questions, even when accusations are flying. It’s tough, but it’s worth it.