Page 6 • MCDFB • June 2009
Farmers Joining the Food Conversation By Cyndie Sirekis
Little, round stickers that proclaim “I Met a Farmer Today!” and “I Met a Rancher Today!” are among the most popular promotional items available through the American Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture. Farm Bureau farmer and rancher members hand out the stickers to people as they talk with them about food and agriculture at fairs, festivals, farm tours and community events. The popularity of these simple stickers points to a hunger among consumers (who are on average, three generations removed from farming) for information about the food they eat, where it comes from and who produces it. And, America’s farm and ranch families are more interested than ever in reaching out to consumers to talk about the food they grow and the art, science and business of farming. Individual producers do this in person, online or both. Online, recent posts to AFBF’s FBlog by farmers and ranchers explore a variety of food-related topics including, “The Real Story of Ag,” “Food, Inc.,” “Helping Hands and Good Conversation” and “Family Farmers Produce Safe Food.” Also online, the micro-blogging social media tool Twitter offers a new twist on finding concise consumerfriendly information on just about any subject, including food and farming. If you’re using Twitter, search for #foodfact, #foodandfarmfact and #farm to find 140-character messages sent by all types of farmers, ranchers and growers. Despite the pervasiveness of electronic communication, when meeting face-to-face, most producers still prefer to offer printed resources that people can hold in their hands to help tell the story of modern farm and ranch production. One example is the
“Food and Farm Facts” book (previously “Farm Facts”) and a smaller pocket guide version produced by the AFBF. These printed materials highlight today’s modern agriculture. Other excellent printed resources with state-specific agricultural information also are available from most state Farm Bureaus. In 27 states, consumers have the opportunity to learn about 80 potato growers who are featured in a new FritoLay campaign that celebrates local people and communities. Localmarket events around the country to celebrate the farmers and the local communities that play a role in making Lay’s Potato Chips are planned. Consumers can go also online, type in a product code from a bag of chips and find out where the spuds for their snack were grown. Producers are geared up and out in full force talking with consumers about how they grow food and take care of their farm animals throughout the year. Examples include dairy farmers celebrating June Dairy Month, rice grow-
ers talking up their grain in September during National Rice Month and Farm Bureau’s Food Check-Out Week in February, when farmers and ranchers offer tips to consumers about how they can stretch their grocery dollars. Of course, growers don’t need a specially designated month or week to put their faces on the many issues affecting their families, businesses and rural communities. A growing number are reaching out to consumers every day of the year, in addition to working hard, seven days a week, 52 weeks a year, to produce food for Americans and many other people around the world. Cyndie Sirekis is a director of news services at the American Farm Bureau Federation.
Commodities Conference July 29, 2009 Ever looked around the farm and been surprised by how many repair jobs have piled up? It’s easy to get so focused on machinery or harvesting that the smaller repair jobs get overlooked. Before you know it, patchwork has grown into remodeling. Illinois’ ag industry is the same way. It’s in need of an extreme makeover. Gather insight on how agriculture will undergo this process, from the best and brightest at Illinois Farm Bureaus Commodities Conference. DATE/LOCATION The conference will be held Wednesday, July 29, at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Springfield. AGENDA General session speakers will discuss how green policies may rewire how you farm and agriculture’s bright future given global trends.
Extreme Global Food and Fuel Trends will be discussed by a trio of experts, including Neil Conklin, President, Farm Foundation; Tami Craig Schilling, Monsanto Public Affairs; and Dr. Robert Thompson, U of I Gardner Chair for Ag Policy. Dr. Jay Lehr, science director of the Heartland Institute, will talk about the great future ahead for American agriculture. Among the breakout sessions offered at this years conference, topics and speakers include: - The Ethanol Market: Time to Retool?, Dr. Bill Tierney, LMC International Ltd. - Proposition 2 and Animal Welfare Issues, Ria di Grassi, Livestock Director, California FB - Nuts and Bolts of Wind Energy, Rob Sharkey, Bureau CFB President & IAA Sr. Counsel Jerry Quick - The China Market Revisited, IAA Director Henry Kallal and
Champaign CFB past president Scott Bidner - Market Outlook, Rob Huston, AgriVisor - Weather Outlook, Jon Davis, Chesapeake Energy - Carbon Dioxide Sequestration Project, Robert Finley, US Geological Service - ACRE - A New Revenue Tool, Doug Yoder, Illinois Farm Bureau - Rural Financial Markets: Built to Survive the Economic Earthquake, Dr. Paul Ellinger, U of I Extension COST The cost to attend is $35. This includes all conference materials, lunch, and breaks. REGISTRATION To register please contact the McDonough County Farm Bureau office at 309-837-3350, or visit www.ilfb.org to register electronically. Deadline for pre-registration is July 17.
IFB Seeking Grassroots Issues Team members Farm Bureau members interested in Illinois agriculture policy issues have until Aug. 14 to apply for the Illinois Farm Bureau Grassroots Issue Teams (GRITs) program.
August 24, 26, 31 Annie’s Project –$50 - 1-3:30pm
September 2 and 9 August 26 Utilizing Cover Crops Telenet Series - $10/topic – 12-1:15pm
September 9, 30 August 26 Salsa Making - $25 - 6:30-8:30pm
August 31 NRM Telenet – From Field to Furnace $5- 1:30 and 6:30
All registration deadlines are one day prior to the event unless otherwise listed.
For more information about these programs or other services provided by the University of Illinois Extension Office, please visit our website at
mcdonough.extension.uiuc.edu Or call 309-837-3939 University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign College of Agriculture Consumer and Environmental Science United States Department of Agriculture • Local Extension Councils Cooperating
The GRITs program provides members opportunities to address emerging policy issues as well as identify new educational programs. The goal is to increase farm income for members. A new team, renewable resources and energy, has been added this year. The other seven teams are conservation and natural resources; crop production and
trade; equine; livestock and dairy; risk management and farm programs; rural life; and special crops and labor. GRITs teams meet twice a year. The first meeting is scheduled for Dec. 18 in Bloomington with the second meeting scheduled next March as determined by the committee. Additional meetings, either in person or by
conference call, may be considered as needed. IFB reimburses appropriate expenses including mileage for the two scheduled meetings. Interested Farm Bureau members should contact their county Farm Bureau or visit the IFB website to obtain an application. GRITs members will be announced in October.