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8 November 2009 - Let Me Hear Your Ideas

Samuelson Sez gives me the opportunity to express my personal opinion, bias and prejudice on issues. And, as I've said many times, I don't expect you to always agree with me, I simply want to stimulate your thinking. But occasionally I like to ask you, my readers, for your advice.

This week I want to hear your ideas on how you think farmers and ranchers should tell their story to the 98% of our population not involved in production agriculture with little or no understanding of what it takes to put food on the table. I want to know how you think we should respond to direct attacks based on emotion and mis-information such as we saw in the recent cover story in Time magazine, as well as the frequent attacks by animal rights groups.

I do want to congratulate the agricultural producers of Ohio for their work in securing an overwhelming "YES" vote on State Issue 2 to keep the production of livestock in the hands of farmers and not in the hands of The Humane Society of the United States. What can we learn from their successful campaign in telling our story? At many farm meetings I attend, I hear someone say we must do a better job of educating consumers and I respond by asking how. I've lost count of the number of organizations that have come and gone, and some that are still here trying to tell agriculture's story and I commend them for what they do. But at the same time agriculture lacks a unified one-voice approach and there is duplication of effort and dollars spent.

Back in the 70's, several groups came together and formed the Agricultural Council of America. It was going to be THE answer; one organization telling agriculture's story, but It became political and support for the organization began to diminish. In 1955, Kiwanis International started National Farm-City Week and set aside the week before Thanksgiving Day to promote programs and events that would bring about better understanding between rural and urban America. That program continues today with some success.

But is there a spokesperson out there, a Lee Iacocca of agriculture with national recognition, who could get the attention of urban media every time there's an attack on agriculture, and present agriculture's side of the story. Who would you select, how would you tell your story and how would you do it in a unified voice representing all of agriculture? I really would like to hear from you; e-mail me at agbizweek.com or send me a letter at WGN Radio, 435 North Michigan Avenue, Chicago, IL 60611. I will share some of your thoughts in this column.

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