From the Ground Up: Agriculture Needs to Tell Its Own Story

Anti-agriculture zealots have vilified agriculture for years, and leaders in the industry maintain that it’s time to stop letting people who aren't involved in agriculture define it.

Ag organizations across the country are encouraging agricultural producers to tell their own stories. Temple Grandin has done extensive research on cattle handling and teaches at the Colorado State University. She maintains that agriculture needs to stop being afraid of the public.

“The activists have done a much better job at communication with the public. When you get bashed, you need to be opening a door not shutting a door, because when you shut the door, that’s automatic implied guilt. We've got to communicate with the public. We don’t have any choice.”

Jerry Armstrong is a local rancher and he agrees with Dr. Grandin that Ag producers need to tell their own story.

“We just came from the auction barn and the cattle are all piling up in the trailer and it looks like they’re being abused, that’s a perception that somebody may not have any other contact with agriculture, and they see those cattle piled up in a trailer, and all the sudden they think we’re bad.”

There’s an old adage that perception is nine tenths of reality.

“They don’t see it when you get to the ranch and you turn them out on green grass and everything’s lovely for them. If they knew that we’re out there when it’s twenty degrees and raining helping a cow have a baby calf or trying to put out feed for them and move them out of an area into some cover or whatever and we’re in a worse situation than they are, they might have a different perception, but they don’t see that, we don’t go around and tell our story.”

Armstrong passed along some advice a fellow rancher gave him.

“You should try once a month to invite somebody over for a meal, cook a steak, but your rule should be that that person not be involved in agriculture. Get their perception. Get their take on things.”