Farmers need to counter farming falsehoods with the truth

Farmers need to counter farming falsehoods with the truth
“The general public is a little bit suspicious of modern agriculture,” but farmers have the ability to change their minds.
 
That was the message from Vance Crowe, director of millennial engagement for Monsanto, who spoke Nov. 30 at the Virginia Farm Bureau Federation’s 2017 Annual Convention in Williamsburg.
 
Crowe previously worked at a National Public Radio affiliate station in California where broadcasters railed against modern agriculture. “I didn’t know any better, so I just followed along,” he said.
 
Years later, a friend sent him a job posting for his current position at Monsanto. Crowe said he decided to apply—just to find out if the company was as bad as he’d been led to believe.
 
“I found out Monsanto is not the company people think it is,” Crowe shared. He added that the products Monsanto is making are helping farmers produce food more bountifully, effectively and efficiently.
 
He told the Farm Bureau audience of Virginia farmers and other agriculture representatives that they have the ability to influence many consumers because of their proximity to Washington. “I need you to tell people they shouldn’t fear modern agriculture,” Crowe said.
 
He showed a picture of a tomato with a syringe placed above it and asked the audience what it implied. “GMOs,” several people shouted out. Crowe explained that anti-farming advocates use that image to influence people into thinking GMOs are harmful.
 
“There are only two things people are more afraid of than needles: death and public speaking,” Crowe said. “But there are no GMO tomatoes, and syringes are not used in that technology.”
 
He said farmers need to explain what they do and how they do it, and offered advice on how to spread those messages.
 
Listen to what the other side is saying, and read what they’re reading, Crowe suggested. “You have to understand people’s fear in order to engage with them.”
 
Crowe also said farmers should “practice speaking the truth.” Explaining modern farming to people won’t be simpler tomorrow. “You have to engage now,” he emphasized.
 
Social media is the best platform to reach the most people, Crowe said. “Twitter is deeply important to agriculture.”
 
Farm Bureau member Casey Phillips, a Montgomery County dairyman, tweeted about Crowe speaking at the convention. “I saw their tweet @DryValleyLiving and went online and was able to view their farm,” Crowe said. “That’s what more farmers need to be doing.”
 
With 127,000 members in 88 county Farm Bureaus, VFBF is Virginia’s largest farmers’ advocacy group. Farm Bureau is a non-governmental, nonpartisan, voluntary organization committed to supporting Virginia’s agriculture industry and preserving the Virginia way of life. View more convention news as it becomes available at vafb.com/convention.
 
Contact Greg Hicks, VFBF vice president of communications, at 804-290-1139.
 


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