(Posted Mon. Jan 25th, 2016)

Volunteer women farmers involved in the CommonGround program, along with state and national staff, met in Washington at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History to share their experiences with the program and welcome new members last week. Through both general and breakout sessions, the participants worked intensively on the tools that they use to share their personal story and that of modern farming with urban and suburban moms through sessions on social media, public speaking and interview skills. 


Through a series of presentations from representatives of affiliated agricultural groups, such as the Center for Food Integrity, attendees explored a wide array of subjects including the most prevalent consumer attitudes toward agriculture and the most effective ways to share their story with a broader audience.


Support for their efforts was reinforced through presentations from National Corn Growers Association Grower Services Action Team Chair Patty Mann and USB Director Nancy Kavazanjian, who also chairs USFRA.


“I came away from the conference with an appreciation for the idea that we need to embrace skepticism in conversations about food and farming with those outside of agriculture,” said Mann. “Just listening to concerns and sharing values can assure others that we really do want the same things for our families.


“Many mistrust farming because they lack access to farmers and ranchers. They sense the food system has changed, but they do not understand why. The more we can find in common, the more likely consumers will be open to hearing our stories. We need to be open about what we do and own our story instead of letting someone else tell it for us.”


The conference offered both the volunteers and staff a chance to share insight into their CommonGround experiences over the past year, during which the involved states hosted more than 120 state events and grew to include more than 170 volunteers, CommonGround continued to grow its grassroots network.  Since it began more than five years ago, CommonGround has sparked more than 680 million conversations with consumers.


During the meeting, CommonGround launched a new video addressing consumer concerns about pesticides titled “Not a Latte.” The video, which can be viewed by clicking here, had more than 94,000 views on Facebook alone in the first 36 hours.


CommonGround is a joint program of the National Corn Growers Association, the United Soybean Board and their state affiliates. Through the work of farm women volunteers, CommonGround connects women on and off the farm for conversations about how food is grown and raised so that everyone can enjoy food without the fear.


The program focuses on nine areas of interest to consumers including: farm ownership; GMOs; food safety; antibiotics and animal health; hormones in meat and milk; organic and local foods; food prices; and sustainability, which was added as a topic just this year.


Want to join the CommonGround conversation? Stay tuned for updates and what you can do to help. To find out more, visit