Flights are a great way to meet people. They are also excellent opportunities to share the story of agriculture.
click image to zoomWyatt BechtelI asked for his mother's consent for a photo, but do I need it from agriculture producers? During my trip last week to Agricultural Media Summit in Buffalo, N.Y., I met a young woman and her not quite 2 year old son. He became quite fussy upon takeoff and was screaming for the first five minutes or so. Eventually, the toddler calmed down but he was still very anxious because this was his first time on a plane, it was also his mom's first trip on a plane.
To help keep the little guy occupied I pulled out my latest copy of Dairy Herd Management. I thought if nothing else the toddler would have fun looking at the pictures, and he did.
Every time the tiny tike turned a page he beamed with delight, "COOOOWWWWS!"
He enjoyed looking at the pictures of baby calves and tractors. I'm sure it was a great learning experience for the soon to be 2 year old.
It was also a good time for me to share with his mother what I do as a rancher and an agricultural communicator. She didn't know a lot about farm life, but I think she gained a greater appreciation of what agriculture does for her family.
click image to zoomWyatt BechtelHeadlines and images like this are giving consumers a poor perception of agriculture. I was pretty happy with myself after I got off the plane at Washington Dulles International Airport as I thought about sharing pictures on social media of the young boy staring at the latest issue of Dairy Herd Management. But that was before I saw the newest magazine version of Mother Jones.
On the cover of the politically left-wing publication was an illustration of a man with his lips sealed shut with bacon and the headline "Gagged by Big Ag."
Now, I wasn't shocked to see the magazine as I had already read the article online. It was an interesting take on the "ag-gag" dilemma that is facing many states, but a rather one sided view of the story from the perspective of animal rights activists. It did leave a bad taste in my mouth seeing the magazine so blatantly out there in public.
I began thinking did anything that I said to that young mother on the plane have any staying power, or would a salacious news story undo one small victory for agriculture. It's hard to know, but I do know this "ag-gag" does not look good in writing or on television.
I'm really torn on this "ag-gag" debate. As a livestock producer, I don't want my way of life, my family business and my home put at jeopardy because of an undercover camera. However, as a journalist who believes in the First Amendment and the Freedom of the Press, I think we are overstepping our boundaries in protecting what we hold so dear.
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