Bureau encourages farmers to tell their story

April 5, 2019

SIPESVILLE — Somerset County farmers stressed the need to tell “their story” to the non-farming community at the 2019 Somerset County Farm Bureau meeting Thursday.

More than 60 farmers, politicians and local officials gathered at the Sipesville fire hall to discuss what the bureau is doing to help farmers in the Somerset area. Many officials said now is the time for farmers to share their stories with people from outside the farming community.

Regional organizational director Joe Diamond said there are negative videos on social media about farming, and farmers should use the same social media to educate the average person about what happens on a farm.

“If you don’t tell people what you are doing, how do you expect them to understand and know what you are doing?” he said.

Bureau officials also advocated speaking to lawmakers, both publicly and privately, about issues in the farming community. On Tuesday, Berlin farmer and farm bureau member Glenn Stoltzfus testified before a congressional subcommittee about issues facing the dairy industry. “It’s tough to know how to get our story out,” he said at the meeting Thursday. “It’s a challenge to talk to people who are three, four (or) five generations removed from a farm and have never been there, and have this perception of what is on a farm.” Officials are planning events such as the Farm Safety Day, which teaches people about the dangers of farm life, May 4 in Berlin to help tell the agriculture industry’s story. Bureau President Denny Hutchison said the bureau has been taking the initiative to “try and get the word out” and making its voice heard. “Somerset County Farm Bureau now has a seat on the Somerset County Chamber of Commerce, and I think that is huge,” he said. “Again, it’s an opportunity to tell our story.” Guest speaker Bill Croushore, a Somerset County veterinarian and Daily American columnist, said some organizations can paint farmers as greedy, heartless and only in the business for profit. “Farmers are stewards,” he said. “Without profit, farming is gardening. . . . So there has to be profit and that’s a good thing, but it’s not just about profit.”

Croushore said he started writing his column about agriculture so non-farmers could get a peek into the industry.

“I’ve been very heartened and humbled by the response from people who don’t know about ag that have enjoyed the column,” he said.

Diamond added that farmers should be available to answer questions from local media about the agriculture industry.

“You have to put yourself out to that opportunity,” he said.