More now than ever before, it seems agriculture is on its toes waiting for an opportunity to correct misconceptions in the media and educate consumers about where their food comes from. While I think it’s great that we are all ready to grab our torches and pitchforks to defend agriculture, I’ve followed with interest the best and worst tactics to get the job done. Trust me, not all advocacy efforts are created equal. Too often, we get so hot under the collar in our unified front to inform an organization or company that has teamed up with one of our adversaries that we sometimes come across as “big ag,” and that’s not getting us anywhere. While we definitely still have much to learn in this advocacy area, there are plenty of folks who are doing great in their efforts to positively promote agriculture and regain consumer trust in farmers and ranchers.
One such example is University of Northern Iowa (UNI) senior Kate Klocke who shared her agriculture story with classmates after her professor included some activist propaganda as part of the curriculum in a wellness class. I recently ran across this article by Aaron Putze on the Iowa Pork Producers Association website. The article is entitled Farm girl, UNI student promotes her way of life to peers, and I have included an excerpt below. I think you'll enjoy this one!
UNI senior Kate Klocke went to college to get an education. However, for 20 minutes of class one day, the 21-year-old political communication major and farm girl from Templeton was the one doing the teaching.
“I was attending my personal wellness class and the assistant professor began talking about protein and the benefits of eating healthy,” she recalls. “As part of the discussion, she brought up the subject of vegetarianism. While I’m an avid meat eater and did not agree with everything she lectured on, I dismissed it because everyone’s entitled to their own opinion.”
Soon, however, the instructor transitioned from teaching to advocating when she dimmed the lights and showed a well-publicized video produced by an animal rights group. The pro-vegan video highlighted the atrocities of so-called “factory farming” including several clips of animal abuse.
“My mouth dropped in horror when they showed scenes from the recent PETA bust in Bayard,” Klocke says. “This was pure propaganda and not something a professor should be using as part of a curriculum, especially when the other side of the story – the farmer’s side of the story – wasn’t being offered.”
Have you ever had the opportunity to share your agriculture story in the face of contradiction? How did you handle it?