Thousands of farmers and others in the agriculture sector will gather in San Antonio, Tx. this week for the 2017 Commodity Classic. The major commodity groups conduct their annual meetings at the convention to set policies for the year ahead, and also do internal examination.
The term “agvocacy” was coined when farmers and ranchers started advocating their own operations instead of letting those outside ag tell their story for them.
At the Bayer Advocacy Forum, David Hollinrake, Bayer’s head of North American marketing, says there’s a divide of misinformation which leads to mistrust, which is why it’s crucial for those in agriculture to share their stories.
“It’s more important now than ever because there’s a divide,” said Hollinrake. “There are people that don’t go to bed hungry every day and there are people, maybe the same people, that believe American agriculture isn’t benefitting them like we need them to understand.”
Farmers like Zach Bailey of Illinois say it’s vital for farmers to have a relationship with consumers.
“Our farm has grown immensely over the past few years and we’ve got landlords all across the United States,” said Bailey. “Literally from coast to coast. That’s really where it started as a relationship-building thing.”
Vivian Howard, star of the PBS series “A Chef’s Life,” is working to share stories of those in ag in a unique way.
“About 6 years ago, I wanted to make a documentary about the dying food traditions of eastern North Carolina,” said Howard. “Things like putting up corn or hog killing or making collared kraut—things that people don’t really do anymore.”
Hollinrake says it’s a combination of people who could shed a positive light on agriculture and the demand for production ag today.
“We’ve got 7.51 billion people on the planet,” said Hollinrake. “We’ve got 800 million going to bed hungry every day. They deserve food. We’ve got 9.6, 9.7 billion people by 2050. It’s going to come through innovation in American agriculture.”
At the forum, Tyne Morgan, host of U.S. Farm Report, asked about the pending Bayer-Monsanto merger. A Bayer representative said the deal is on track to close by the end of 2017 with the real transition and marrying of the two companies taking place this time next year.