Farmers and Ranchers Alliance Announces “New Faces” Program
In the third year of the “Faces of Farming & Ranching” program, the U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance hopes to connect with consumers over sustainability and technology.
Last week, the U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance unveiled its newest class of “Faces of Farming & Ranching,” an initiative aimed at connecting consumers with real farmers. These five new “faces,” farmers and ranchers in Virginia, Texas, Ohio, and Wisconsin, will act as the spokespeople for USFRA and serve its mission of reaching consumers.
“What we found is that consumers—they trust farmers and ranchers,” said Paul Spooner, USFRA’s affiliate relations and ag communications manager. “However, they’re less likely to trust farming and ranching practices.”
Spooner said the latter sparked the Faces of Farming & Ranching program, which launched in 2013. By having on-the-ground farmers share their stories through short videos on USFRA’s consumer-oriented website, participate in media interviews, and speak at consumer-focused conferences and events, USFRA is hopeful its initiative is helping build trust among consumers in U.S. farming and agriculture.
To be considered for this third class of USFRA’s faces, people had to submit an application and a three-minute video about both their lives as farmers or ranchers, as well as their techniques and practices. USFRA narrowed down the applications to eight semifinalists, and then asked the public, the previous class of faces, and USFRA’s communications committee to weigh in. The five candidates that won out include Lauren Arbogast, Jeremy Brown, Emily Buck, Katie Roth, and Lauren Schwab.
All of the winners—though their crops and livestock range from pigs and peanuts to chickens and organic cotton—have a focus on sustainability and technology.
“For 2017, one of the initiatives that we’re really focused on as an organization is this concept of SMART Farming,” Spooner said. “SMART Farming is really talking about how farmers use technology to be more sustainable. So for this next class, we really looked at their operation and through our conversations, really wanted to find farmers who were very sustainable in their operation, that are using technology to really shape their operation and to continually improve it.”
Spooner added that these ideas really resonate with consumers and helps them to find shared values. In the past, classes have spoken and made appearances at events that range from SXSW Eco to dietician and nutritionist conferences in order to forge crossfunctional relationships with influencers and consumers.
“Agriculture today is driven by technology and an unparalleled commitment to animal care, and this group of exceptional farmers and ranchers are such an accurate portrayal of the entire agricultural community,” said Brad Greenway, USFRA Chairman and South Dakota crop and livestock farmer, in a press release. “With their sustainable practices ranging from no-till and cover crops to pollinator habitat and state-of-the-art animal facilities, I’m proud to have these five represent USFRA and all of agriculture.”
(U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance)