agriculture, FFA, rural life, Uncategorized, writing

Why the Anti-Ag Movement Will Not Win

FFA jacket front

Dear Unnamed Animal Rights Organization,

This is in response to your recent blog post bashing the National FFA Organization and animal agriculture.  You’ve done more than just anger a stay-at-home mom blogger in Wyoming.  With one misguided and misinformed blog post, you’ve managed to raise the ire of more than 550,000 FFA members, millions of alumni and an entire agriculture industry.  And for that I say, thank you.  A hearty, beautiful thank you.

You see, this week, Wyoming FFA members are celebrating the second annual Wyoming Agriculture Advocacy Week.  AGvocacy Week, as they call it, was a celebration dreamt up by nine college students in Wyoming a little over a year ago.  Their dream was for one week of the year, to have 2,600 Wyoming FFA members focused and working together to advocate for the agriculture industry.  They wanted members to share their own personal beliefs in agriculture.  They wanted members to share ag facts.  They wanted members to raise awareness of the importance agriculture plays in our economy, culture and natural resources.

It’s an important mission, and one our FFA members take seriously.  But then you went and wrote your blog post and upped the stakes.  You tried to take the National FFA Organization to task for it’s commitment to agriculture and the personal growth of its members.  You tried to hit us where it would hurt the most – right in our beloved blue and gold jacket.

But. You. Failed.

You failed to present logical arguments.  You failed to back up your rhetoric with science based facts.  You failed to trick the FFA into spreading your propaganda.  You failed to divide the organization or cast them in any kind of negative light.  You tried to drag them down to your level of fighting dirty and spreading lies and propaganda.  You failed.

Instead, you’ve given the Wyoming FFA members, and members nationwide, a very real example of why they need to stand up for their industry.  You’ve demonstrated to them the importance of advocating for agriculture.  You’ve given anyone who loves the FFA and supports the agriculture industry a reason to engage in the #AgistheAnswer and #FFAProud campaign.  You’ve managed to rally the troops and you don’t even know it.

You see, I read your blog last night.  And it made me so mad, I started to formulate a response in defense of the organization and industry that helped me become who I am today.  But then the most amazing thing happened.

Before I could get my thoughts together, FFA went on the offensive. The entire organization came together.  Members stopped talking about how angry the blog made them.  They deleted their posts linking to your derogatory propaganda.

Instead, in Wyoming and across the country, FFA members and industry supporters began sharing their positive agriculture experiences on social media.  They are talking about agriculture and livestock production with their friends and family.  They are blogging, tweeting, speaking on the radio and appearing on TV in response to your attack.  They are engaging with anyone and everyone who will listen about the benefits of FFA.  You are not getting the press.  The articulate and charismatic FFA members are.  And they are making the most of it.

FFA members are discussing how #AgistheAnswer to feeding and clothing an ever-expanding world.  They are sharing how #AgistheAnswer to keeping open spaces.  They are discussing how #AgistheAnswer in support of other vital industries like conservation, transportation, textiles, floriculture, horticulture and medicine.

So thank you.  Thank you solidifying their purpose.  Thank you for strengthening their resolve.  Thank you for giving them the perfect example of just what is at stake for the FFA and agriculture if we ALL don’t tell the real ag story.  Thank you for giving all of agriculture the swift kick in the butt we needed to move beyond complacency and into our own version of attack mode.  No longer will we let you misrepresent facts and spew hatred.  We will not sit idly by while you tarnish our blue jackets, industry or our way of life.

Research shows that people were hunting animals for their meat as long as 2 million years ago.  By most accounts, agriculture started around 7,000 B.C. in the fertile lands of the Middle East.  The domestication of animals dates to around 6,000 B.C., depending on the species.  Goats were domesticated for their meat, wool and milk as early as 8,000 B.C.  The National FFA Organization has been around since 1928.  Your organization has only been around since 1980.

By all means, try to sully the National FFA Organization again.  Come at them, at us, with everything you’ve got.  But if you’re going to take us down, you’ll need more than scare tactics and half-truths.  We have time on our side.  We have history on our side.  We have a highly-educated, well-spoken, compassionate, honest and determined legion of blue-jacketed agriculture advocates on our side.  And I couldn’t be more #FFAproud.

Teresa

P.S.  If this resonates with you, drop me a line and share your own ag story or FFA moment at teresahmilner@gmail.com.  Tell me, or the world, why you are #FFAProud or why you believe #AgistheAnswer.  I’d love to hear from you!

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3 thoughts on “Why the Anti-Ag Movement Will Not Win”

  1. I was in FFA in Oregon and I am so appreciative of your post and what it calls out about the idiocy in the original PETA post. My FFA project in high school was crops, not livestock, and my senior year in high school my parents sold our family farm (we were just too small an enterprise for my two parents who both worked full time jobs in addition to running our 120-acre alfalfa operation; I raised 6 acres of peppermint for oil for my FFA proj, and then took a job working on a farm after high school so I could earn my American FFA Degree).

    I guess the reason I’m commenting here, though, is because I didn’t become a farmer and no longer work in agriculture.

    I went to college and got a degree in English, a Masters in Teaching, and am 15 years into a career in the public schools (teaching HS English and now working as an instructional coach for new teachers).

    But still, FFA is the single most influential experience in shaping who I am today as an adult.

    First and foremost: I learned more about communication and being a good teacher from FFA than I did from my undergraduate or grad studies. Between going to FFA leadership camps, the career development events, and later, being a state officer and WLC staffer, I learned about people as much as, or probably more than, I learned about farming… and in this world it can’t hurt for us to learn to understand people a little better regardless of what career we end up choosing. What infuriates me most about that exceptionally poorly composed PETA post (the writer would have earned an “F” for idea development, strength of organization, and validity of claims in my 9th grade English class…I mean, there are plenty of people who can form valid arguments in favor of animal rights…that writer wasn’t one of them) is that it attempts to use FFA’s values…the values that the organization and the overwhelming majority of its active members live every day…against it. Your assessment is spot on: it failed.

    I appreciate you speaking out in defense of the FFA, both pointing out the truth of the organization as well as the rhetorical weakness of the attackblog. I was not aware of the FFA’s response and its emphasis on the positive. THAT is a lesson sorely needed for every American.

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    1. Thank you, Mark, for reading and for leaving comment. Like you, I participated in FFA in high school, but I am not actively involved in agriculture as an adult. I am a stay-at-home mom and wife of a wildlife biologist. But the skills I learned and honed in FFA benefit me every single day. I may never raise another hog but I also never worry about a job interview, speaking in public or meeting new people. And I carry with me some incredibly important life lessons learned in FFA. So to have PETA launch such a baseless and misleading attack on a group of kids…well, there were words uttered not suitable for print. I have been humbled by the reaction from FFA members from across the country – they are keeping it positive and using facts and keeping it classy in a way PETA can never understand.

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  2. I too was angered when I saw the post, by how insane it was. Being a Wyoming FFA State Farmer I know what it did for me. It made me a better person with an understanding of my world. Your response is great and I thank you for writing it. I still own my FFA jacket and look at it with pride. I’m even prouder to know how my home state has stood up in a positive way!!

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