March 18 is National Agriculture Day, a time to celebrate and promote our industry. But the message is being lost because the industry is divided. Big vs. small, biotech vs. non-GMO, ethanol vs. livestock: the list of issues that divides agriculture is a long one. But, according to Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, that list of divisive issues is hampering our ag day message, “Because we keep fussin’ with these issues within agriculture.”
Speaking to the National Farmers Union meeting this week, Vilsack called on agriculture to present a more united message when talking to consumers and those outside of agriculture, “Every minute that agriculture takes fighting within agriculture is not being used to advocate about agriculture to the rest of the country.” He stressed that there are forces who want to strip agriculture of many of the support programs and that the industry is facing some serious social and political challenges.
The Secretary said, when telling the story of ag, we can be more effective if we speak with a more united voice, “When you are dealing with 99% of America that does not understand what it has, and how it got what it has, and does not appreciate what it has, we have got to message more effectively.”
Toward that end, Indiana’s Director of Ag Ted McKinney says he is spending more time talk to consumers than to farmers, “I am spending more time talking to Rotary and other public groups than I am talking to Farm Bureau meetings — because we have got to make that urban connection.” He told HAT that ISDA is about promoting all of Indiana agriculture because there are benefits and opportunities for everyone.