A Passion For Policy
Thursday, August 24, 2017
Ask anyone who knows me well and they will tell you that I am obsessed with three things: Coffee, Farming, and the Harry Potter series. I like to kindly remind my friends that obsession is just another word for passion, so let me tell you about my passion for agriculture and farming (we will save the Harry Potter conversation for another time).
My Life In Agriculture
I have been surrounded by agriculture my entire life. My family’s farm is in Adams, Tennessee where we raised cattle and dark fire tobacco for a long time. Now, we rent the acreage to another local farmer who raises corn, soybeans, and wheat. As a kid, I joined the 4-H and FFA organizations where I showed sheep, learned to give speeches, and participated in just about every contest they would let me into. Honestly, I could spend the rest of this blog post bragging on these youth groups and the incredible role they play in developing young adults into leaders.
After high school, I attended the University of Tennessee and graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Animal Science. While I was there, I was on the collegiate livestock judging team and was an active member of Pi Beta Phi sorority and collegiate FFA. By this point, I knew I wanted to pursue a career in agricultural policy. I will be eternally grateful for the animal science department and my academic advisors for being patient with me as I strayed from the standard animal science path that leads to veterinary medicine and the livestock industry. Today, I work for the local US Congressman as a field representative which includes representing her in eight of her nineteen counties and assisting with rural and agricultural policy issues. I am also active in the Tennessee Farm Bureau’s Young Farmers and Ranchers program.
How I Got Here
People always ask me how a farm girl ended up in politics, and the answer to that question has two parts. First, I was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease when I was eleven years old. Crohn’s is an autoimmune disease that effects the digestive tract, and three times in my life I have had flare-ups of the disease that left me unable to eat and profoundly hungry. Outside of those flares, I am blessed to be very happy and healthy, but as I grew older it began to weigh on my heart that there were people who experienced profound hunger and starvation every day, not just a few times in their lives. In fact, The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations estimates that about 795 million people of the 7.5 billion people in the world, or one in nine, suffer from chronic undernourishment. This led me to the knowledge that one way to address global hunger is through improving the agricultural policy that governs food production and distribution.
The second part of my answer to how I got here is that I had amazing role models that helped me find my passion. My parents, Louis and Janet Buck, raised me to work hard and try to be a good person, and my dad set the example for me with his career in agricultural policy. It was pretty easy for me to follow in his footsteps. I also attribute much of my success to my high school FFA advisors, Benny McDonald and Pam Walker. They pushed me to put my competitive attitude to good use in FFA leadership and communication events. Finally, I have to thank Rhedona Rose and Carol McDonald with the Tennessee Farm Bureau and the Department of Agriculture, respectively. They are my every day example of how strong and intelligent women can impact the agricultural industry through policy making. They say it takes a village to raise a child, and I have always been very grateful to have an incredible village of people who have been willing to invest time and effort in my life. It is the combination of my life experiences and the guidance of my role models that has led this farm girl to pursuing a career in agricultural policy as a way to tackle global hunger.
I applied for the Youth Ag Summit to hopefully gain a better understanding of how other countries and cultures see the big picture of global food production. I am looking forward to having a meaningful conversation with my counterparts from other countries, as we look for solutions to feed the growing population that is expected to reach over 9 Billion hungry mouths by the year 2050. From my viewpoint here in America, I see a few issues that we will need to address in the process of reaching food sustainability.
First, I truly believe education is an answer for almost every problem. It will be vital for us to educate both consumer about where their food comes from and producers on innovations that can increase production. Second, we will need advances in infrastructure and distribution to allow food to travel effectively around the globe. Third, food waste is an ever prevalent problem. Currently, 40 percent of food that is produced is wasted at both the production and consumer stages. A large part of feeding the world will be reducing waste paired with increased production. All three of these issues are goals that I hope to address through strong policy making, and I am thankful to Bayer for hosting the Youth Ag Summit to allow collaboration among young adults around the world.
Feel free to come visit me here in Tennessee for a strong cup of coffee (and a chat about my obsession with the Harry Potter books)! You can also follow along on my journey to Brussels as a US Youth Ag Summit Delegate on social media, @EmilyABuck, on Twitter and Instagram.