Upset with negativity? Lead by example
Wednesday, September 27, 2017
Posted by: Tim Trotter, executive director
I’m sure many of you get irritated at times with activists challenging essentially everything that a farmer does. Animal care, land and nutrient management, farm size and more are all subject to criticism.
Farms are under the microscope and every movement they make is judged in the court of public opinion. Unfortunately, opinions are formed by people who have little expertise on the subject matter and many of them have an agenda that is not fact-driven. They promote their theories based on how to disrupt the food production system to leverage their one-sided agendas.
These strategies are now being targeted toward local communities, causing people to question the truth.
Are farmers environmentally safe and well-intentioned? Do farmers really care for their neighbors and the communities they live in?
Now we know the answer is yes, but the activists don’t care. However, the moveable middle does. The people in the moveable middle have an interest in food and generally support and trust farmers. They are interested in what farmers are doing to improve food quality and the environment.
For too long we have allowed the myths and scare tactics of activists to distort the truth about food. It’s time to demonstrate the truth and show the facts. It’s time for farmers to be open and transparent about the journey toward continuous improvement.
The fact is the journey has been going for decades as farmers are always looking to improve. Unfortunately for them, they are humble and so busy farming, they don’t take the time to share their experiences. Those experiences are real-life examples that people want to hear. If not, they will be influenced by activists with their hidden agendas.
DBA and DBMMC along with other dairy community and environmental partners launched the Dairy Strong Sustainability Alliance (DSSA) one year ago.
This initiative allows farmers to come together voluntarily and learn, test and implement improvement strategies on their farms. Examples of this includes the outstanding watershed projects being organized by Yahara Pride Farms, Peninsula Pride Farms and the newly created Lafayette Ag Stewardship Alliance (LASA). These farmer-led initiatives are paving the way to greater farmer participation in sharing their experiences of learning, innovating and raising the bar for improvement.
DSSA will provide a way for farmers to demonstrate to everyone that they truly care.
So, when you get frustrated with the negativity, turn the table by leading by example. Let’s reset the discussion not only as a great discussion about the dairy community, but also in our own communities. It will make a difference.