October 2015

Talk the Talk:

The Words We Choose

Nancy Kavazanjian, a Wisconsin farmer, serves as chairwoman of the U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance (USFRA). She also serves as a director on the United Soybean Board, which oversees the national soy checkoff program. Below, we’ve reprinted an article she wrote from Illinois Farm Week, printed October 5, 2015.

Organic Farmer of the Year Greg Reynolds raised a few eyebrows at The Food Dialogues: Minneapolis when he exclaimed “there are words used in conventional agriculture that just grate on my ear.”

Overlooking the phrase “conventional agriculture” which grates on MY ears, Reynolds makes a point.

Truth is, everyone trying to explain today’s farming methods should choose words carefully. While Reynolds couldn’t come up with specific words that bothered him, USFRA research shows there are words we should use, and others we should lose, when talking about farming and ranching in order to better connect and build trust with consumers.

Rather than talking about insecticides, herbicides and pesticides, for instance, our research suggests we explain how we prevent bugs and other pests from eating and stealing nutrients from our crops. When talking about nitrogen and other fertilizers we use on those crops, it’s best to explain that we are nurturing plants with nutrients at exactly the right time, at the right rate and in the right amount to help them grow and thrive.

While GMO seed is a well-known term and trumps the use of the word biotech, our research shows it’s more effective to discuss planting seeds that grow stronger and more resilient or have special, built-in ability to repel insects and diseases. We use the term GMO over biotechnology because it is consumer language, and we want to use the language that connects in every instance.

Animals occasionally get sick, just like people do, so we should relate how we work hard to keep animals healthy and maintain growth; sometimes that means properly using antibiotics, according to label directions and under a veterinarian’s care.

Anyone familiar with our Conversation with EASE training realizes no magic phrase exists to connect and build trust. Instead, we must

(1) Engage by looking for common ground to start a conversation and build from there.

(2) Acknowledge specific questions and concerns. Once a conversation is started, we can

(3) Share stories about how food is raised. Only then can we help consumers realize we are working hard to do the best possible job of raising food on our farms and ranches in order to

(4) Earn trust. If you’ve never tried talking with a stranger about agriculture, you’re likely to be surprised at how many people enjoy discussing it with those directly involved in farming and ranching.

USFRA has developed specialized training sessions – called Conversations with E.A.S.E. – which [are] offered by Illinois Farm Bureau. During a recent E.A.S.E. Training session in Minneapolis, Wisconsin dairy farmer Todd Doornick explained how his dairy cow trackers were similar to fitness trackers that are popular with people today. It was a great analogy that resonates well with today’s tech-saavy consumers.

We all have stories to tell about how we care for our land, our animals, our farms, families and communities. Share yours with us online at http://www.fooddialogues.com/farmers-ranchers/share.


The Winner of the Green Thumb Challenge!

The month-long Green Thumb Challenge has concluded, and CropLife America (CLA) is pleased to award Twitter user Jennie Schmidt, @FarmGirlJen, with the winning prize!

Throughout the month of August, agriculture advocates were challenged to paint their thumbs green and post a creative photo on Twitter. In addition to Schmidt’s tweet, which won her an Apple Watch, CLA received submissions with photos of thumbs painted as farm animals, attending a county fair, at work on a farm and in a variety of other inspired manners—all supporting today’s many environmentally sustainable farming methods.

In celebration of the conclusion of the Green Thumb Challenge, CLA made a $5,000 donation to the Food Recovery Network (FRN), an organization that connects students across the country to fight food waste and hunger. Through the work of the Food Recovery Network, 814,325 pounds of food have been donated to people who are hungry. Stay tuned for future social media challenges supporting today’s ag methods!

Photo on the right submitted by @su_gsoedgar
Photo on the left submitted by @FreshStartFarm

Farmers in the U.S. and Around the World

As an agvocate, you know that today’s farmers work long hours year-round to get food to your plate. And you also know that pesticides and other crop protection

technology help them prevent pests and diseases from damaging their produce. But did you know that:

  • In the U.S., 87% of farms are owned or operated by individuals or families1.
  • Less than 1% of Americans are farmers.
  • There are just over 2.2 million farms in the U.S.

Share these facts with your friends and family on your social media networks using CropLife America’s new animated infographic, Farms in the U.S. Then, download five new infographics from CropLife International to learn more about the importance of agriculture around the world.

1 Data from the 2007 Census of Agriculture produced by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, National Agricultural Statistics Service. Visit http://www2.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2015-07/documents/ag_101_agriculture_us_epa_0.pdf for more farm statistics in an easy-to-read format.

Billions of Bacteria

One teaspoon of productive soil can contain between 100 million and 1 billion bacteria.1 These living microorganisms recycle organic material, promoting soil fertility and supporting plant growth. By practicing conservation tillage, farmers can maintain biodiversity in their soils. Post CLA’s newest infographic to share these facts with your friends on social media.

IYS Billions of Bacteria Infographic

1 Natural Resources Conservation Services. Ingham, Elaine R. Accessed October 2, 2015.



The most popular recent @CropLifeAmerica tweets:

Let’s face it – we’re living in the age of visual culture. From the rise of Instagram’s popularity to the retweeting capacity of images, photos pack a punch! Here are a few reasons to consider including photos and/or graphics in your tweets or increasing the frequency of photos on your social media platforms:

  • More views: Tweets that contain images tend to garner more views than tweets that don’t. Why is this? Well, tweets with images are simply more attention-grabbing than plain text. If you’re tweeting about an article, consider including a photo about the subject; you’re more likely to make an impression.
  • Images affect engagement: Researchers found that engagement on Facebook posts increases when photos and images are included. In fact, the engagement rate on Facebook for posts with photos averages 0.37 percent whereas text-only posts average 0.27 percent. The uptick in engagement can be attributed to the emotional impact of images, and this can be used to your advantage! Show people why your story is important instead of just telling them.

Images are impactful and provide followers with a more distinctive idea of who you are and your ideas. Consider tweeting infographics, photos from industry events and short videos to liven up your feed and increase engagement!

Tell Me More Blog

Searching for perspectives on the benefits of modern agriculture? Read the Tell Me More blog for in-depth information on timely topics to share with family and friends.


Fun Facts for Apple-Picking and Trick-or-Treating!

Autumn isn’t the same without a trip to the apple orchard, and crop protection products keep this seasonal tradition in bloom! Farmers use synthetic and organic crop protection products as needed to protect apple trees from harmful pests and disease, making sure they grow enough of this healthy fruit for everyone. When you visit a farm this season to pick apples with your children, school classes or friends, consider sharing the following facts:

  • Eating seven servings of fruits and vegetables (conventional or organic) a day can cut your risk of premature death by 42 percent.
  • Less than 1 percent of fruits, vegetables and grains tested by federal inspectors are found to contain residues exceeding allowable levels.
  • You would have to eat 500 apples in 1 day to experience any affect from pesticide residue.

Share these facts and more on social media with CLA’s infographic, How ‘Bout Them Apples? Then, check out CLA’s poster, Halloween without Candy or Jack-o-Lanterns? for information on how crop protection products keep your trick-or-treat bag full!



Answers from Above – Aerial Application 

Crop protection technology and methods continue to advance, and agvocates like yourself can help spread the word! In the excerpt below, Kayla Uhles, a student at Southeast Missouri State University, describes how aerial application is helping farmers apply pesticides precisely and produce food more efficiently. Read her full blog article online.

My heart grew up on my grandfather’s row crop operation in Southeast Missouri. It was a typical summer afternoon if I saddled my paint horse and took off down the field road to see what was happening on the farm….

[My horse] is scared of airplanes. I have been spun, bucked, and jolted just about every time one flies over. However, I can’t really blame my horse because these just aren’t any planes. A mile down the road from my house is an aerial applicator business, which has replaced the older method once known as “crop dusting.” Their job is to precisely apply pesticides, fungicides, insecticides, and fertilizers on row crops in our area. These small planes can accurately reach and maintain speeds of up to one hundred and forty miles an hour as they navigate down across the crops.

…What’s in store for the future? Aerial application technology has also contributed to benefits in fighting forest fires, mosquito control, and snow removal among other things. Drones are even being tested that could potentially take the place of piloted planes. However, with new advancements come new questions. As an agricultural student and Southeast Missouri resident, I believe it’s my responsibility to teach others about our industry. You don’t have to be an expert, but you do have to be willing to AGvocate for what you believe in. An AGvocate is a person who positively promotes aspects of agriculture. It is as simple as telling your story. Give those unfamiliar with agriculture an inside look even if your story is a goofy paint horse scared of “answers from above!”


Get Your Master’s in Modern Ag…in Less Than 30 Minutes!

The crop protection industry is an innovative and fast-paced field—modern ag relies on continuous improvement and a devotion to advancement! By getting your Master’s in Modern Ag (MMA) through CLA’s Tell Me More program, you can stay up-to-date on the latest innovations and issues that arise in the pesticide industry. The primary MMA certification takes under 30 minutes to complete and gives you the opportunity to talk about why you support modern ag. Then, complete an MMA specialty certification, such as The Founders of Modern Ag or Supporting Soil Health, which take just five minutes each—enough time to learn something new!

Check back for new specialties throughout the year. For questions about the MMA program, contact Whitney Gray, communications coordinator at CLA, by email at wgray@croplifeamerica.org or by phone at 202-872-3847.