(Posted Mon. Jan 9th, 2017)
Last weekend, CommonGround volunteer Dawn Caldwell, who farms and ranches in Edgar, Neb., spoke about how the program addresses consumers concerns about food, farming and ranching as part of a panel at the annual meeting of the State and Ag Rural Leaders. SARL, which fosters cooperation, leadership and educational opportunities among and for state and provincial legislators, brought together this panel and focus group to help attendees better understand consumer concerns and also to look at the best ways to work with agriculture to foster productive communications.
The panel, which opened the conference during initial general session, began with a consumer focus group on food topics including the use of GMOs, pesticides, grocery purchasing patterns and antibiotic and hormone use in animal ag. Following the consumer focus group, Caldwell and presenters from SaksCanola and the Foundation for Biomedical Research shared their own experiences working to address consumer concerns. Caldwell highlighted the activities of CommonGround over the past six years, shared the importance of the program’s positive approach and urged legislators to work to launch a program in their state if one was not already in place.
“Legislators hear from all sides of each argument on a regular basis,” Caldwell said on her experience. “To ensure that our voices are heard, we must not only speak up but also help them understand what we have learned thus enabling them to better speak on our behalf. By working together with our elected representatives on these important educational issues, we can amplify our voices and reach a broader and more diverse audience.”
During her time speaking, she also mentioned important work done by the U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance, such as the curriculum developed to accompany the movie Farmland and involvement in events targeting food influencers.
The National Corn Growers Association participates in SARL regularly. Stewardship Action Team Chair Brent Hostetler, who represents NCGA at the organization’s events, also attended the Baton Rouge meeting to network and gather information on the important work being done legislatively at the state level. NCGA Public Policy Director Ethan Mathews and Communications Manager Cathryn Wojcicki accompanied Hostetler and Caldwell respectively.
To learn more about SARL, click here.