During Top Producer’s Executive Women in Agriculture conference, held Nov. 29-30 in Chicago, Ill., Leah Brakke of Black Gold Farms, Vanessa Kummer of the United Soybean Board and Larkin Martin of Martin Farm answered a series of questions including what they saw as agriculture’s biggest challenges.
While the three have different experiences and are involved in different parts of agriculture, they echoed many of the same comments and words of encouragement.
Kummer who chairs the United Soybean Board said the amount of misinformation out there is a real problem – more from the consumer being led by the media. Martin who farms 7,000 acres in Alabama added that the majority of public policy makers are illiterate when it comes to agriculture. "We need well-informed, practical decision-makers," she said while acknowledging the U.S. has a tremendous advantage in comparison to other countries. "There’s no other country I’d rather farm in."
While Kummer and Martin focused on public policy and perception, Brakke focused on food safety and transparency. "Consumers need to understand that farmers are doing their best to produce as much food as possible in the safest way possible on fewer acres," she said. "We (Black Gold Farms) spend so much time and money on audits. You have to be diligent, comply with the rules and regulations and conduct audits. Keep your doors open and bring people into your operations so they see and get a feel for what you are about."
When asked how they’ve exceled, both Kummer and Martin said they showed up to meetings regularly, asked questions and participated.
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See full coverage of Top Producer's 2012 Executive Women in Agriculture event. Follow the event on Twitter: #EWA12.