A Job Well Done

Posted: 9/20/2010

Posted By:  Steve Dick

It is easy to be frustrated with how modern agriculture is portrayed by media and filmmakers.  News coverage of "insider videos" created by activist groups and negative films such as Food Inc shine a negative spotlight on farmers and agricultural production. 

That's why it is so refreshing to see a positive story told well.  When Temple Grandin, the HBO movie chronicling the animal welfare expert's life, was released, we knew it was a good story.  In August, the film was honored with five Primetime Emmy Awards, including "Outstanding Made for Television Movie."  Several cast members also won, including Claire Danes for "Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or Movie."  

Turns out, Hollywood is catching up to what we in agriculture have known for a long time:  Dr. Grandin is even more impressive in person than her story is on screen.  The film chronicles Dr. Grandin's life with autism and how she tapped into her ability to see the world in a different way to better understand animal behavior.  Dr. Grandin has used this unique understanding to revolutionize animal handling systems across the U.S. livestock industry.  Her work has improved the treatment of animals and strengthened consumer confidence in livestock production. 

Ag United for South Dakota was honored to host Dr. Grandin in South Dakota in June 2009.  She shared a number of animal handling techniques and suggestions with more than 350 livestock producers.  This last summer Grandin also spoke to ranchers near Rapid City.  The farmers and ranchers who attended her presentation walked away with a number of practical solutions to improve the well-being of their cattle and safety of people working with them. 

We're also seeing positive stories about farm and ranch families in our own backyard.  

Eight South Dakota farmers and ranchers are telling their stories through the "South Dakota Farmers Feed US" program. Consumers can take virtual tours of each farm on the program website.  After learning about the farm and ranch families and how they produce corn, soybeans, eggs, beef, pork, or dairy products, consumers can register to win a year's worth of free groceries that will be awarded later this year. 

Sioux Falls television station KELO has spent the 2010 growing season following one acre of corn planted near Parker.  Reporters have checked in to see the progress of the field throughout the season and given viewers a little insight on how weather and other factors can impact corn production. 

Finally, farmers and ranchers across the state are using social media to advocate, or "agvocate" for agriculture through Facebook, Twitter and other new media tools.  Here are a few examples of those "agvocating."

Check out their postings on Twitter. 
Andy Dupraz - ad_farm
Brad Greenway - greenerb
Keith Alverson - cornfarmerkeith
Kristen Brekke - BrekkeFarm
Paul Johnson - pjfarms
Sandy Osterday - SJO13
Troy Hadrick - TroyHadrick

Here are some Facebook pages:
Advocates for Agriculture
Hilltop Dairy Elkton
Prairie Gold Dairy
South Dakota Corn
South Dakota Farm Bureau Young Farmers & Ranchers
South Dakota Pork Producers Council
The Truth about Agriculture

Also, check out Ag United on Twitter at:  AgUnited4SD and on Facebook at:  South Dakota Farm Families.

Activist groups are not going to let up on negative messaging, so everyone involved in production agriculture needs to keep telling their own positive story of feeding and fueling the world.  Whether you are talking to your neighbor, community group, or the entire Internet, keep up the good work!


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