We often think that so-called consumers are the ones that need to educate themselves. We say that they should just do some research and believe in the technology that we use on our farms. Even while we’re saying that, we agriculturalists, in many cases, aren’t even ready to articulate and share what we do. Can you explain how GMOs are made and what they do, for example? One of the women who participated in the Illinois Farm Families farm tour program recently wrote this blog about what she needs from you. Remember, Illinois Corn Marketing Board is a member of the IFF Coalition, along with the Illinois Beef Association, Illinois Farm Bureau, Illinois Pork Producers Association, Illinois Soybean Association, and Midwest Dairy.
But I’m just a mom.
By: Jill Thurmond
Back in December I was invited to be the "mom representative" on a panel and talk about my experience as a Field Mom in 2014. I jump on the chance to talk to anyone about education I’ve received on food production and farming through this group that’s put together each year by Illinois Farm Families. The panel was set to talk to a group of veterinarians getting together in Kansas City for the Academy of Veterinary Consultants winter conference. They were focusing one of the dinners on communication technology and wanted the panel to present about the importance of telling their stories and answer their questions.
As intimidating as it was to me to talk to a room full of veterinarians when I was “just a mom”, my job was to let them know from a consumer side what we wanted to know. I wanted to just jump up and say "we want to know everything!"
I know there’s a lot to say, and it might be hard to tell me everything, but please tell me your story. I want to hear it. I need to hear it so I can educate myself on what I am feeding my family. I need to know why you do what you do. I need to know that what you do is safe for the animals and for me. I need to hear that what you do is in the best interest of the animals. I don't want to get my "education" from a Chipotle ad or off an article on the Internet. You are the experts and I like getting my information from people who are out there each and every day, educated through experience, the classroom, and dedicated to stay informed on the best practices to take care of these animals that ultimately feed my family. I’ve never gone through veterinary school and I’ve visited one cattle farm my entire life. I’m no expert.
But we don't hear much from you. We want to hear more - so please share! You live, eat and breathe this job with a passion and love for the animals and in turn the consumer. You get upset when a negative ad, article or documentary comes out saying what you are doing is bad or wrong. Usually this is coming from someone who isn’t completely educated on the subject. I’m sure when you became a veterinarian you didn’t think you would have to create social awareness that what you’re doing is safe and best for the animals, but guess what – if you don’t share your story, we, as consumers, may only hear the scare tactics from people who don’t know what they’re talking about. Maybe they like to cause drama or maybe they are scared of something they don’t know much about. But you can help fix that.
I know you don’t have anything to hide. You know that too. But if you don’t tell your story, people think you are hiding something bad. They don’t realize that you are just trying to do your job and want us to trust you. We need hear why we can. People have questions that you know how to answer. You, the expert with all the experience, who is on the farm day after day, helping these animals grow up healthy and strong.
I know we might seem intimidating. I know we might seem scary. But really we're just a bunch of moms and dads who are trying to feed what’s best to our families.