"Cultivating the capacity to innovate and communicate through agricultural advocacy."
Farmers Fight Agriculture Advocacy Conference Welcomes Distinguished Guests to Texas A&M Campus
COLLEGE STATION, TEXAS―Over 300 Texas A&M University students welcomed keynote speakers to the College Station campus for the Farmers Fight Agricultural Advocacy Conference March 20. Todd Staples ‘84, Texas Agriculture Commissioner, Forrest Roberts ‘92, Chief Executive Officer of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and Don Heller ’83, Partner in Ag Crop Insurance Agency, returned to their alma mater to charge young agricultural advocates to keep the industry alive and thriving.
The group was welcomed by the College of Agriculture and Life Science’s Associate Dean for Student Development, Chris Skaggs, Ph.D., who encouraged Farmers Fight members to make a difference in the world of agriculture.
Commissioner Staples discussed the vitality of agriculture to Texas and entire nation, while also encouraging advocates to be mindful of the consumers’ wants and needs.
“The consumer is king,” Commissioner Staples said. “If we lose sight of that, we are out of business.”
Commissioner Staples also pointed out other challenges faced by farmers and ranchers, including weather and politics. He went on to emphasize the importance of leadership and responsibility when advocating for agriculture.
“We have to be accountable for our own actions,” Commissioner Staples said. “You have the opportunity to be advocates for agriculture every day. We have to be a voice and fight for what we believe in.”
Roberts touched on a number of factors influencing the past, present and future of agricultural advocacy. He emphasized the importance of gaining trust and engaging in dialogue in order to bring out the transparency consumers demand in agriculture.
“We have to use a method or application that is not talking at, but talking with,” Roberts said. “Do everything you can with everything you have and learn from it.”
Heller informed the body about the basics of crop insurance and how he became involved in that sector of agriculture. He referred to food and crop production as an issue of national security and asked that advocates recognize the necessity of compromise in all of their pursuits.
“If we fail to educate and have discussion … if we fail to advocate … if voters and consumers listen to the wrong voices, then we fail in our effort to produce and feed the world,” Heller said. “You have a calling and I cannot think of a profession that does a better job of serving than feeding your neighbor.”
The conference concluded with Yell Practice led by Hunter Cook ‘14 and Ryan Crawford ‘14, Fightin’ Texas Aggie Yell Leaders.
Kasey Kram ’15 and Heston Heller ’15, Farmers Fight Lead Advocates responsible for planning the conference were excited to see a successful outcome of the event they began preparing for in August.
“The Farmers Fight Conference is important because behind every movement in history is a solid knowledge base,” Kram said. “I believe that this conference educates our advocates to be better prepared to go out and speak about the positive benefits of agriculture.”
They are looking forward to future Farmers Fight events.
“With the average American nearly four generations removed from agriculture, it is important to inform people just where their food comes from,” Heston Heller said. “I am extremely excited that we have the opportunity to do just that on this campus with Farmers Fight.”
Farmers Fight was born in 2011 when students in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Texas A&M became upset about articles published in their campus newspaper and yahoo.com that negatively portrayed the agriculture industry. Students were convinced that it was necessary to stand up for agriculture in a way that the public could easily understand. Through community and campus outreach events, social media campaigns and representation at a number of prestigious conferences over the past year and a half, the group has grown tremendously while keeping the mission and vision of its foundation at heart.
“Nine billion people by 2050,” Farmers Fight President Mason Parish said. “People are why advocacy is important. It is our job to come together and stand together to meet the goal of feeding the world.”
Farmers Fight will host its second Coloring Book Campaign in the Bryan-College Station area April 8-10 and will, once again, “take over” the Texas A&M University campus during Campus Connection Day, April 11, when students, staff, faculty, administration and passersby can “Get the 4-1-1 on Agriculture.”
For more information on Farmers Fight, visit their Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/FarmersFight or their blog at http://tamufarmersfight.blogspot.com.