So, many of you have read my Facebook post regarding the Fair Oaks Video. However, if you have not already, Here it is:

“June is dairy month!

I can’t resist making a comment about the video that has surfaced about Fair Oaks farms. I just want to remind you all that those people mistreating the animals do not define the industry! Our industry is NOT made up of heartless and inhumane people. We are a kind and caring people. We love our animals.

I always love when people see a video such as the one posted by ARM at Fair Oaks or the PETA video from a dairy in North Carolina. Everyone wants to have an opinion when something goes wrong but no one says anything when the industry is doing right. So, I am taking it upon myself to right the wrongs that are being done.

So I’ll say it louder for the people in the back, WE LOVE OUR ANIMALS. True agriculturists do not mistreat their animals. Those who mistreat the livestock are people who are hired because they need a job not because they love what they do or because they respect life or the industry. An agriculturist is someone who loves and respects the animals, earth and those around them. We love our jobs, we love our animals, and we love our loyal consumers.

Please continue to support the dairy industry. Dairy farmers are hurting enough the way it is. Please do not be fooled by the lies that the activists promote.”

With taking that post into consideration, I’ve been thinking about this topic more and more lately. What drives a person to be so heartless and senseless? What makes someone wake up one morning and decide they want to work on a farm, especially when they have no business working on a farm. Now, don’t get me wrong, people can work on farms without having an agriculture background. That’s what we want after all, isn’t it? Don’t we want people to learn more about the industry and be interested in agriculture? So, how do we solve this problem? How do we teach people to love the land and love the livestock?

During my sophomore year of college, I was given the opportunity to take a class called Agriculture Advocacy. While pursuing a Bachelors degree in Animal Science with a minor in Agriculture Communication, it seemed like a great class to have under my belt. I participated in an online contest called College Aggies Online, through this program I was able to become an advocate on social media. My goal was to post at least 5 posts each week about a specific topic. One week would be about beef cattle, the next about turkeys, and yet others about grain crops. In the example below, I was instructed to create a “moo meme.” I also posted fun facts and information to go along with each post. The feedback that I received on these posts was immeasurable.

I am beyond thankful for the skills I have be taught through my Agriculture Advocacy class. It has taught me so many new things. It taught me how to be a good advocate for agriculture. It taught me to speak to people outside of agriculture and it taught me how to promote the care and well-being of our livestock.

I have also tasked myself with becoming PQA and BQA certified. I also have my Masters in Beef Advocacy, which is another great program that I encourage you all to take part in. Each of these programs will help you to become more knowledgeable of the humane treatment, transportation, medical care, and proper euthanasia techniques for livestock. These programs are crucial to the success of our industry. We have so much to learn, we may never perfect the art of caring for animals, but we can at least try.

Agriculture needs you now more than ever! We need compassionate and intelligent people to advocate for the industry. We need people to show the good side of this amazing industry. We need to showcase the people who work day in and day out to feed the people who are so ungrateful. It’s our job to educate those who think we mistreat our animals. So, I would like to ask all of you to please step up. Advocate, educate, and become knowledgeable about the industry.

Interested in becoming an advocate? Here are some tips and tricks to start.

Social media is our friend- Social media is a great way to advocate for the things you believe in. Post pictures! Post facts! Post pictures of you advocating! When posting a picture to social media, make sure its appropriate, you don’t want to negatively portray a situation, or give someone a reason to not trust agriculturists. Social media is a great way to connect with the non-ag community and have conversations about agriculture.

Become educated- Educate yourself on the topics that you’re interested in. That being said, it’s a good idea to become knowledgeable about all aspects of the agriculture industry. You’ll have questions coming at you from every direction, from other agriculturalists and from those who don’t agree with your views.

Learn to listen- In order to speak, you must first listen. Listen to those around you, the questions, comments, and concerns. You can learn a lot from your friends and neighbors. That being said, if you find yourself in an argument with an activist, listen to their views. I’ve found that more often than not, all you can do is show your respect for that person and agree to disagree. It’s difficult to change the views of someone who is set in their ways. While in my advocacy class, we were taught that its best to just remove yourself from the situation, rather than making a fool of yourself and wasting your time.

Talk, Talk, Talk!- Talk to everyone, your family, friends, people in the industry, and people who know very little about the industry! Be knowledgeable about various aspects of the industry. If you don’t know the answer to one of their questions, don’t make something up. Tell them you will find more information and get back to them. The only thing worse than no information is misinformation!

Tell your story- One of the best ways to connect with people and advocate is to tell your story. People are more willing to listen to you if you open yourself up, expose yourself, and tell personal stories about your experiences.

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