The Right Way to Advocate

As Farmer Dan told me growing up, “If you’re not gonna do it right, don’t do it at all”. Back then, I probably rolled eyes. But as I’ve matured, I understand what he meant. He was trying to teach me that there is a right way and a wrong way to do everything.

I take that advice seriously and apply it to everything I take on now, including this blog. One of my main concerns about initiating it was that I knew I had to do it right, which means researching topics, proofreading, and posting regularly. But I felt the challenge was worth it because agriculture needs positive advocacy. What I didn’t realize is…….there’s a right way and wrong way to advocate as well.

And I’m still learning the right way to do it. Sometimes I say too much and dig myself a hole as I engage with consumers directly at farmers markets. Sometimes I have a hard time not showing emotion and getting upset when consumers say negative things about farmers. Sometimes I have a hard time not replying to every little comment I see on social media regarding fad diets and claims rejecting animal based foods.  But I’m learning there’s a right way to respond and I’m getting better!

And I’m learning from advocates like Dr. Temple Grandin. Ever heard of her? She is a professor of Animal Science at Colorado State University. She was also the subject of a 2010 Emmy award-winning movie, called “Temple Grandin”, starring Claire Danes who portrays her life struggle with autism. If you have time this winter, trust me and watch this movie! I don’t watch many movies but I have to say this one really hit me hard not only because of its relation to ag but also because I formerly taught students affected by autism at Phillis Wheatley Middle School. So, how does this relate to ag? Well, she overcame autism and developed her talents to become a livestock equipment design handler. She’s designed the facilities for which half the cattle are handled in the U.S., including for firms such as McDonald’s, Burger King, and more. In a recent video just put out by American Meat Institute, she gives an overview of the beef handling and slaughter process and mentions that she’s going to do it the “right way”. She mentions that many undercover videos do not portray the truth and other videos are taken during tours where too many people often scare the cattle into abnormal behaviors. She supports the humane handling of animals and the use of best management practices, which she has obviously spent a lifetime researching specific to cattle. A true advocate for agriculture, she is a great example of “the right way to advocate” for anything in today’s world… telling the truth, researching the topic, and learning the best way to portray it.

***Caution: this video is graphic and shows the full slaughter process.

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