From Boots to Suits – AgVocacy Off the Farm

Monday, February 27, 2017
By: Deb Gangwish, PG Farms, Inc., and AgVocate, Grower
AgVocacy Forum

Feb. 28 through March 1, Bayer will hold the 2017 AgVocacy Forum in San Antonio bringing together growers, a chef, food policy experts, entrepreneurs, scientists and others for open dialogue about how to meet the food needs of both the under- and well-fed today and tomorrow. Over the next two weeks, we will feature a series of blog posts highlighting the many ways thought leaders #AgVocate. You can follow and join in the conversation on social media using hashtag #AgVocate.


I must say that I live in my boots. I like all kinds of boots, cowboy boots - fancy and plain, dress boots – tall and short, snow, rain, muck and work boots – yup I like them all. I feel comfortable in my boots, they are part of my everyday life on our family farm.  But there are many times every year when I trade the comfort and casualness of my boots for the not so familiar formality of suits. 


So why would a farm woman trade her cherished boots for suits?  I do it for the love of agriculture. I trade in my boots many times a year to head to my state capitol so I can be a voice on bills that impact agriculture, to attend hearings and to meet with my state legislators on their turf.  Soon I will trade my boots for suits to head to DC to speak with our Congressional people on issues impacting agriculture and how it personally affects our family farm.  It’s not always comfortable for me BUT I get out of my comfort zone to get into the zone of politicians. Farmers are less than two percent of the population. We are going extinct. It is just plain impossible for our state and national politicians to understand the implications of their decisions on agriculture if we are not vocal and actively nurturing our relationships with them.


Farmers can be powerful AgVocates for agriculture in the political world. We have walked a lot of miles in our boots!  For the love of agriculture, we must be willing to put on a suit, get off our farm and leave our comfort zone.  We must share our walk with the politicians who walk a lot of miles in shoes unfamiliar but vital to us. We must keep up with the policies that impact our farms. Commodity groups are great at funneling the necessary policy information to their members.  Share your story in person, in a letter or email. Nurture the relationship.  Our politicians need our stories to do their job well.    


The world population is expected to reach nearly 9.6 billion by 2050, and producing enough healthy and nutritious food for all will require collaboration and engagement across the ag sector and beyond.  It is important for everyone who plays a role in this important work to #AgVocate by sharing their story. Be sure to check out the other participants’ blogs as they #AgVocate. Tomorrow’s post will be hosted by Zach Bailey, farm manager, Bailey Family Farm, to explore the importance of discovering your own passion for “AgVocating.”


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