20 March 2011 - Working Together Works

At National Agriculture Day there was a great deal of talk and discussion on a topic I have heard for decades. . .‘Agriculture must do a better job of telling its story.’ We heard it from House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas and several other speakers who appeared on programs to salute America‘s farmers and ranchers.

Phil Bradshaw of Illinois discussed the work of the United States Farmers and Ranchers Alliance Group that represents more than 28 of the leading farmer and rancher agricultural organizations. They have joined together to fund programs that bolster the image of agriculture and enhance public trust in our food supply.

Another group made its national debut at the Agriculture Day luncheon in the Capitol Building, The Alliance to Feed the Future. According to it’s leader, Dave Schmidt, the organization is a new umbrella network that tries to put together all of the different communities involved in agriculture, scientific societies, universities, industry and commodity groups that have been working individually; but hopefully The Alliance to Feed the Future will bring all 52 member organizations together.

I welcome all of the groups and their efforts to tell the story of agriculture. I just hope there is coordination among them to tell one central message and to avoid duplication of efforts.

There was another event on National Agriculture Day that was not part of the scheduled program, but to me, it was a history-making announcement . It was a year ago that war broke out inside the soybean industry in this country. The United Soybean Board and the American Soybean Association declared war on each other over disagreements on policy issues basically dealing with check-off funds and how they are administered and spent. It really did get name-calling nasty; they were shooting at each other and I thought, "Here we go again”, farmers attacking farmers and hanging out their dirty laundry for all the world to see.

How many times do I have to make this point? We have so many people and groups attacking the agriculture community from the outside that we can’t afford to have groups inside attacking each other over issues that should be resolved by reasonable people before it becomes a public fight. That’s what finally happened with the two soybean groups. Alan Kemper, President of the American Soybean Association told me the farmer leaders of USB and ASA sat down together in a room, resolved the issues and walked out friends. I tip my hat to those leaders for their successful efforts. An excited Alan told me, "The brothers will work together and there will be peace in the valley.” To that I say "Amen"!

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