Monday, April 23, 2012

Taking the Listening Role when it comes to Ag Issues!

This last Sunday, I had the opportunity to attend one of Lincoln's Earth Day events to help promote ethanol for the Nebraska Corn Board. This was the first time I had ever attended an "Earth Day" event, and before that day I didn't even know much about Earth Day.

When I first arrived I found myself in a diverse group of people, people that probably aren't real fond of modern day agriculture. I wasn't sure what to expect for the day and was expecting to be criticized since I was representing agriculture. However, I ended up having a great time interacting with people who stopped by our booth. A majority of the people that did stop by our booth were supportive of ethanol, and if they weren't supportive, they wanted to learn more!

As the day went on, I ended up having a great conversation with a gentleman about ethanol, which eventually turned into a discussion about modern day agriculture. I found it interesting that he was very supportive of the ethanol industry and wanted to see ethanol offered at more fuel retailers in Lincoln. However, as supportive as he was about ethanol, he wasn't as supportive of modern day agriculture and questioned a lot of what farmers are doing. At that point, our conversation turned away from ethanol and started into a discussion about today's agricultural practices.

Before we even began talking, he said he probably shouldn't say too much since I was part of the Ag community. However, I told him that I was really interested in hearing his views as I come from a family farm and wanted to learn more about their concerns. He then began telling me that he believed GMO crops are bad and how they are harming both the planet and humans. He also said "Big Ag" is a problem and that they cause of a lot of the problems. I then asked him to define "Big Ag" for me since Big Ag gets thrown around a lot but it gets defined differently between people. He then responded that Big Ag meant large companies like Monsanto and even large farms. He said these are the people who are polluting the environment. He said farmers are using up all the resources and are also using chemicals that are harmful to ecosystems. Our conversation ended up lasting for about a half hour discussing these issues while at the same time I responded to his questions and concerns.

Overall, I felt the conversation was good and it ended up giving me a different perspective on how we should approach individuals who question modern day agriculture. I learned that those of us in agriculture need to be willing to take the listening role instead of the defensive one at times. Sometimes the concerns they have, such as the environment, are the same ones that we have. Yet, if we don't listen, how are we suppose to know? It is hard to fight something when you don't even know what you're fighting. To be honest, that actually goes with anything in life. Before you can address something, it is always good to know what you are addressing first. So if you are ever in one of those situations, be sure to take the opportunity to listen even if the other person's perspective might be different from yours. In the end, it opens the door for dialogue about these issues!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Faith and Animal Agriculture

When your eating that tender steak or delicious burger, do you ever wonder if you are committing a sin? Usually when I am eating a steak, that thought doesn't even come to mind and I am pretty sure that doesn't come to mind of most individuals that are involved in the agriculture industry. However, animal right's activists are trying to instill this thought in consumers minds, making them think twice about what they are eating.

A couple days ago I read an article in the Drovers Cattle Network that said animal rights activists are starting to change their tune a bit and are starting to use faith as a way to push their anti-meat/anti-animal agriculture agenda. However, this wasn't the first time I heard about faith being used to convince consumers that eating meat is unethical. When I was down at the 2012 Commodity Classic,  I attended a learning session that also pointed out that these activists are starting to use faith as a way to convince people to stop eating meat. In their view, they see eating a steak or pork chop as committing a sin. They think that God did not put animals on this earth for our consumption and that God gave us plants to consume instead. Yet, one of the scriptures in Genesis suggest otherwise. "Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you. And as I gave you the green plants, I give you everything." Genesis 9:3. This was when the Lord spoke to Noah after the great flood. So my question to the individuals that claim producing and eating meat is ungodly is why would the Lord tell Noah that everything on the earth that moves is food but in today's world it is wrong and unethical? It doesn't make much sense to me and the message about everything being food doesn't change throughout the bible.

However, not everyone realizes that eating meat is NOT a sin, and this is why it is important for the agriculture community to make sure that anti-animal agriculture groups don't start misusing faith as a way to further their anti-meat agenda. Over 78% of the nation's population belongs to the christian faith, so just imagine what could happen if these anti-animal agriculture groups started to convince Christians that eating meat was bad and against the Christian faith.

Those of us in the agriculture industry need to make sure that these groups against animal agriculture don't take advantage of faith and use it to further their agenda. I want to leave you with a passage that I found that I think makes a good point. We shouldn't judge those who don't eat meat and those that don't eat meat shouldn't judge us. The only one that has the authority to judge is our Lord.

"One person believes he can eat anything, while the weak person eats only vegetables. Let not the one who eats despise the one who abstains, and let not the one who abstains pass judgement on the one who eats, for God has welcomed him." Romans 14:2-3

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Starting "A Growing Passion"

Welcome to "A Growing Passion", a blog where I want to share my ever growing passion for agriculture, leadership, faith, and other things that are having an impact on my life. To be honest, I never thought I would even start my own blog because I thought it would take too much time, and I was too afraid to even manage one. However, that all changed several months ago.

A little under a year ago, I had the opportunity to begin interning with the Nebraska Corn Board. My title was the Communication and Market Development intern. I understood what market development meant, which was helping find new uses for corn and doing research. However, I didn't quite know what the "communication" part of this title meant. I knew it didn't mean answering phone calls all day but thought maybe it dealt more with trade shows or communicating more with Nebraska's 26,000 corn farmers. While those two things were part of the internship experience, I soon found out that the communication part meant I would do a lot of work with social media.

I was familiar with what social media was, I mean I did have a Facebook account, but soon realized that there was much more to social media. There is Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, Google Plus, Pinterest, and last but not least- the blog. Like I mentioned before,  I had a Facebook account but hadn't even thought about doing any of the other social media stuff. Yet, that all changed as soon as I started at the corn board. All of a sudden I had my own personal twitter account set up (@latwater1) and then started making educational videos to post on the Nebraska Corn Board Youtube page. Lets just say I was learning quite a bit about social media and to be honest, was really getting into it. After about a month being with the corn board, I began to write blogs for the Nebraska Corn Kernels talking about some of the current issues facing both the corn and agriculture industry. After writing a couple of blogs for the Nebraska Corn Kernels, I began to post monthly "Interesting Intern Insights", which featured blogs that had my opinion on certain issues that agriculture faced. For a person that was skeptic about blogging, I suddenly fell in love with it because it gave me the opportunity to share my story about agriculture with others.

As I mentioned earlier, I started with the Nebraska Corn Board just under a year ago and will soon be ending my internship with them come this May. It has truly been a great experience with them and I am thankful for them getting me more involved with social media, which I find myself constantly using. If I am not on Facebook, I am usually on twitter. With my internship coming to end it also meant that my blogging on the Nebraska Corn Kernels would also becoming to an end as well. However, I didn't want to stop sharing my passion for agriculture, and that is why I created "A Growing Passion". I want to continue to share my growing passion for agriculture with others and what better way to do it than start my own blog!

While I hope that you will enjoy reading my posts, I hope that you will also learn something about the agriculture industry. While "A Growing Passion" will have a heavy focus on agriculture, there will also be occasions where I will blog about leadership, faith, and other things that have had an impact on my life. I hope you enjoy the blog and who knows, maybe it will help you grow your passion!