Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Farmers Urged to Respond to the Media

CattleNetwork.com has an informative interview with Geoff Cooper from the National Corn Growers Association regarding the outlook of ethanol and corn production and how the media portrays the "food vs. fuel" debate.
Corn is one of the staples of our food supply. But it’s also becoming a staple of media coverage predicting a “food versus fuel crisis,” as ethanol production ramps up.

But the facts on the ground – farm ground – paint a different picture. In its latest World Supply and Demand report last week, USDA calculated the 2007 corn crop at more than 13.2 billion bushels, making it the largest in U.S. history and 25 percent larger than the 2006 crop.
Most interestingly, Mr. Cooper sums up the issue and offers three suggestions for farmers on how to respond the media critics:
AgNetwork.com: It’s troubling that when you review the media coverage of the “big issues,” such as energy independence and food security, farmers these days are more often painted as part of the problem, not part of the solution. NCGA is certainly playing its part in helping change that, but what about individual farmers? How do they get involved?

Cooper: I think there are three steps that farmers and growers need to take. The first is simply to educate themselves on these issues. We’re certainly a good source of information, and their state and local growers associations and farm bureaus are also a great source of the facts and figures they need to get up to speed. Most farmers I talk with understand that the way the media portrays these issues isn’t right, but they need to be aware of the facts and be prepared to talk about what’s really happening with corn production

Second, they need to be willing to become advocates for agriculture. There are plenty of opportunities with local community groups, church groups and service clubs to speak out about farm issues. Once you’re armed with the facts, it’s not hard to go out and share them with your neighbors, your friends and others in the community.

Finally, we’ve had some excellent success reaching out directly to the media. Writing a letter to the editor is great, but there is no reason not to contact editors and broadcasters directly. Most of the time when you watch a cable news show, you’re seeing some academic researcher talking about whether we can grow enough corn, or whatever issue is on the table. Personally, I’d much rather hear from actual farmers themselves.
Source: CattleNetwork.com

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