For many members, owning and showing livestock is a huge part of their FFA involvement, not to mention a passion and hobby many choose to pursue outside of the organization. But what if it was now against the law to handle animals in a show ring, or even to use them for any agricultural pursuit?
It may sound a little far-fetched, but recent animal rights movements have already begun to make trouble in many production agriculture operations. States nation-wide have experienced increasing pressure to pass laws that ban the use of modern agricultural equipment and techniques, forcing farmers to drastically change their operations or get out of the business entirely. Many extremist groups use viral videos to help slander the job of agriculturalists, but organizations such as Protect the Harvest are here to defend and pass along the real story of agriculture.
Protect the Harvest strives to inform the general public about the importance of the American Farmer and the work they do.
“Whether it’s crop farming or livestock production, we are constantly under attack,” says Chris Chinn, a Missouri hog farmer and agriculture advocate who uses social media to help tell the story of her family farm. “We don’t think the voice we represent gets heard; the voice of the American Farmer is muted.”
Laws such as Proposition 2, passed in 2008 in the state of California, have begun to transform the methods in which common groceries like eggs reach our tables. Many more “one-size-fits-all” approaches to agricultural legislation are in the works, including one that could completely alter the nation’s poultry industry.
It’s time to stand up and make a difference. With all the talk of politics and legalities, you may be wondering, “…but how?” The answer is a lot simpler than you might think: share your story.
Whether it’s ‘sharing’ a picture you saw on your Facebook newsfeed, posting a video of how your family runs your farm on Youtube, keeping a blog that discusses the negative impacts of anti-agriculture action or simply sharing your experiences with a curious bystander at the county fair, you’re making a positive impact.
“If even two of you go out and do something, it’s an improvement for agriculture,” says Chinn. “Even if your video is a little shaky, or you stutter a bit, it’s O.K. It’s real, and that’s what people want to see.”
Support companies who uphold the importance of agriculture. Comment on news articles and other published works with your ideas. Talk to your state and local representatives. Get involved with your local farm agencies and FFA chapters. There are many ways to have a voice.
“We want to hear from the people we represent,” says Jason Smith, a Missouri State Representative. “Why is agriculture important to your way of life? Your family’s way of life? Why do you show your steer every year at the 4-H fair? It doesn’t matter if you’re 4, 12, or 37. Talk to your representatives.”
To learn more about Protect the Harvest and how you can make an impact on the future of agriculture in America, visit www.protecttheharvest.com.
Hannah Kleckner is an Agriculture Sciences major at Penn State. Originally from Annville, Pa., Hannah was a member of the Little Dutchmen FFA Chapter but now serves as a member of the Penn State Collegiate FFA.