The goal of "Telling Your Story" has been to help farmers understand what some of the negative perceptions there are about agriculture and how farmers can respond within their own circle of influence. Whether we realize it or not, each of us has other people whom we influence.
Some people are able and willing to do large events, to talk with others, or have a large social media presence where they reach many. However, sometimes reaching those that we have regular interaction with is where we can have the greatest influence.
We each have people that we touch on a regular basis. Think about the people you run into daily or weekly at the store or at community events. Each interaction is an opportunity to leave a positive message about yourself and agriculture.
Don't forget about those closest to us when thinking about what you do. How many of your family members know what you do on your farm? Many fellow advocates for agriculture realized that they needed to speak up about what goes on in modern agriculture after talking with a family member who no longer lives on a farm.
The best way to have the conversation is to listen, understand concerns or questions, and share your perspective. It's a conversation, not a confrontation.
This quote from Napoleon Hill reminds me that when we are sharing our view of agriculture, we have the opportunity to plant a seed. "Think twice before you speak, because your words and influence will plant the seed of either success or failure in the mind of another."
The question is, what seed do you want to plant? Do you want to make the other person feel like they can continue the conversation in the future? If so, we need to leave a positive feeling.
Whether we are intentionally having conversations with others about food production or not, each of us in agriculture should strive to understand what the negative messages are. There are several key concerns that the general population has about modern agriculture. Understand what they are and the reasons that people are concerned so that you can respond or even be proactive in addressing them when the opportunity arises.
When talking with others about modern agriculture it might feel like you or the industry is being attacked. Sometimes that is the case, but often people are genuinely concerned about the issue and what they researched is negative towards the practice. If it's a practice that you use on your farm explain why you do it and why it's beneficial. Try to not be offended by the questions. View it as an opportunity to share your perspective. They aren't necessarily questioning you, but attempting to gain understanding.
You have people that you interact with regularly. To some, you may be the only farmer they know. What impression do you want to leave on them about agriculture?
The reality is that there is a lot of impact each of us can have with people we know.
The opinions of LaVell Winsor are not necessarily those of Farm Futures or the Penton Farm Progress Group.