Farm Broadcasters: Their airwaves can be ‘town hall’ on food issues

By Gene Hall

My evening with the elite of the National Association of Farm Broadcasters (NAFB) at their Harvest Dinner a few days ago was eye opening.

Reporting life and work on America’s farms and ranches, we can bridge the gulf between farmers and their customers. Some of those customers are now four generations removed from the “farm years” in all our family trees:

  • It’s the lady being interviewed on a Texas major market television station about biotechnology. “These products have not been tested.”
  • It’s the persistent Internet myth that corn “is not a cow’s natural food and it makes them sick.” Or cows are not allowed to eat grass.
  • It’s the notion that all food should be local and organic and that will solve all food issues–the claim that with food production, less is more.

All of this is incorrect; not a lie, just wrong. Nearly everyone who says it believes it. The truth is:

  • Biotechnology foods (GMOs) are the most completely tested foods in the history of the planet.
  • Corn is a genetically modified grass, the old fashioned way, over centuries. Cows love it and will turn down grass to eat it.
  • All cows eat grass. They are not fed corn until just a few weeks before they become beef.
  • Local, organic issues are important, but in food production, less is not more–only more is more–and we need more.

No one will understand this if we don’t have the conversation. We need to tell our story but listen to other stories about the concerns of our customers.

The microphones of the NAFB are different than those used by farm radio pioneers—and yet the same. They are trusted, respected.

Yet their audience has changed. I think of the farm broadcasters, potentially, as the moderators over the airwaves of a great national town hall discussion on the future of food. It should be a conversation, and as I told the NAFB in Kansas a few days ago, they are in a remarkable position to lead it.

Gene Hall

Public Relations Director
Texas Farm Bureau
I believe that the only hope for a food secure world is capitalism and reasonable profits for America’s farm and ranch families–that the first element of sustainability is economic survival.
Follow Gene on Twitter and Facebook.

4 Responses to “Farm Broadcasters: Their airwaves can be ‘town hall’ on food issues”

  1. Gene you’re so right. Thanks for helping us tell our story. There certainly is a lot mis information out there that needs correcting. Like they don’t make meat at the store we do that here at Starr RIdge.

  2. Robert Domitz says:

    Man has been genetically modifying plants since the dawn of agriculture, selecting the best seeds for the next season’s crop. From this, we get our great grain crops, wheat and corn. Unfortunately, city-dwellers are too far removed from the source of their food to understand this concept. They do not understand the union graft in the fruit trees that allows a high-quality fruit producing trunk to grow on the high-efficiency roots from a different variety. To them, food comes from a store. Period.

  3. Green Fields Project says:

    If it weren’t for farm broadcasters would people even know the farmer exists?

    One generation removed from the farm is enough to loose, almost completely, all knowledge of the farm. I’ve seen this first hand in my own family.
    I have had discussions with people (through social networks) who believe that the only farms that should exist are those by some farmer who works mindlessly from before dawn to after dusk who’s sole purpose is to feed the world,….. Old McDonald. They also believe that farm animals should be running free and frolicking among the grass covered hills and valleys of some mythical place called a family farm. While that’s not the extreme, it comes pretty close. For the most part most peoples view of a farm is a quaint goat and pony show with a petting zoo, an antique parade and pancakes for breakfast. And of course, there are LOTS of farmers aren’t there? Well? Of course there isn’t but to the average person it doesn’t matter how many farms there are because whenever people are in need of food they wander into a store and the shelves are full to overflowing.,…. always. We did not know what it is to truly “want” in this country.

    Record unemployment hasn’t had many unemployed people knocking on barn doors looking for work like their great grand-dad once did to put food on his families table. The farm was once the source of all in this world and it still is. But thanks to endless government handouts and multigenerational wefare, the need to work has not only become unnecessary, but very undesirable. They hear the words “factory farm, “imigrant labor” “GMO’s” “CAFO’s” and “Food Inc.” I have to wonder if organizations that say they support farmers really know what they’re doing when they seem to be more anti-Monsanto then anything else.
    But stop and think for a moment. Who is the voice of the famer people hear? More often then not it isn’t the farmer they hear. They hear from large machinery companies, seed companies, marketing agencies, and 30 second blips on television selling something. The farmer? Who?

    • Gene Hall says:

      I’ll give you a hint, Green Fields. If you hear an organization claim to represent farmers, then starts in bashing a corporation, or bigger farms, then what you’ve got is definitely not an organization that supports farmers and ranchers.

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