Today, I had the great honor to serve as the 2010 Chairperson for Illinois Ag Legislative Day. Below is my letter to agriculture attendees. This legislative event is sponsored by Illinois Agriculture Organizations in honor of National Ag Week.
Friends of Agriculture:
Illinois Agriculture History has taught us that fortitude by sincere hard-working individuals has resulted in 28 million acres of Illinois farmland returning over 9 billion dollars to the state’s economy. As a state that economically benefits immensely from agriculture’s productivity, the investment on sustaining the future of the industry is not equivalent.
A new decade is upon us. The challenges before the agriculture producer are mighty. As a producer, outsmarting Mother Nature, paying sharply escalating production expenses, receiving low commodity prices, and managing hidden costs due to increased regulations has compounded into a tornado of anxiety and uncertainty.
The image of the farmer and/or rancher is repeatedly being tarnished. One non-profit group has loudly announced the desire to end animal agriculture. Other groups silently sneak behind the scene to manipulate legislation and agencies’ rulemaking to make the business of agriculture expensive and impossible to partake in. Regulations and legislation based on emotions and not on accurately documented science can unravel any advancement in technology.
Are the negative attacks results of pure ignorance of agriculture? It is well document that the average American is three generations removed from the farm. This removal from the everyday operations of a working farm, leads to many myths about agriculture.
As an individual involved in agriculture we must come to terms that we are not just a member of organization or single commodity producer but an interconnected portion of entire industry. Revealing the truth about agriculture maybe as simple as becoming an AGVOCATOR (borrowing from fellow Ag Twitters). Speak out for agriculture everyday in the checkout line, in a classroom, or with a lawmaker.
Today’s technology has created a new frontier for Agvocating by using Smart Media. Realizing the average farmer in Illinois can operate a yield monitor or read a text on the local markets but do not attempt to turn on the computer. Tweeting on Twitter has opened the door for communication between farmers but more importantly to non-agriculture individuals from across the world. Everyday millions are discussing agriculture online. If actual farmers are not present for the online discussion then a simple mislead statement can lead to outlandish campaign against the practices of agriculture.
Together as a member of the agriculture community we must take a STAND and communicate that Agriculture is vital part of Illinois’ economy but more importantly an essential part of feeding the growing world population. We cannot do this without anticipating and participating in the legislative process. Agriculture leaders go forth and begin building strong relationships with lawmakers and government officials.
Government Officials and Legislators we encourage you to opening a dialogue with the agriculture leaders listed in this directory. Together we can sustain and strengthen the agricultural economy by investing in its future. GO AG!
Cheryl Day, Chairperson