Kumbaya Moments in Agriculture


If you are involved in agriculture, you’ve probably heard a bit about the Roundup Ready alfalfa case the Supreme Court heard yesterday.

All the details can be debated/discussed elsewhere, but I wanted to point out a conversation between two people – Emily Zweber and Mica Veihman. Emily is part of a family organic farming operation in Minnesota, Mica is employed with Monsanto. Certainly two folks that see this issue from very different perspectives. But yesterday, I watched (and briefly participated in) a very good twitter conversation between the two of them.

For some reason, it seems to be most difficult to have a legitimate conversation about the role of technology in food production, whether it is my farmer friends over at NewAgTalk, or some of the anti-GMO activists in social media. Any attempt at having a reasonable dialog about best and proper methods of adequately meeting the needs of the world’s population seems to quickly disintegrate into name calling and accusations.

I am under no illusions that yesturday’s discussion solved any of the complex challenges of integrating new technology into existing, diverse production systems. But I am convinced that solutions start with quality, open, honest conversations. I can appreciate Emily’s concern that “we don’t want to loose #organic cert b/c a bee flew too far” and also it is quite apparent from the resources Mica provided that there has been extensive work done in researching, understanding, and developing a plan around the issues involved.

Thanks to both of you for keeping alive the hope that social media can lead ALL of us in agriculture to a brighter future!

The above statement was made by Darin Grimm, a Kansas farmer who raises corn, soy beans, wheat, sunflowers, and cattle. Darin summed up a very important point: agriculture needs to be unified and cooperative. Instances like this are rare, but not entirely isolated. I have a few select “anti-big ag” folks that I can really get along with and respectfully disagree with.
I think dialogue like that between Darin, Emily, and Mica needs to continue. There needs to be constructive conversation and mutual respect. Inflammatory behavior does no good, other than to spread the rift. I was incredibly moved when I read this, since I stand by my beliefs that a farmer is a farmer is a farmer. Method shouldn’t matter, as long as good stewardship of the land, animals, and resources in question is practiced. The passion for creating, growing, producing, supplying, and being close to nature is essentially something all farmers share.
If you’d like to see the Google Buzz discussion, it can be found here.
To further follow the members of the discussion, check out Google Buzz or find them on Twitter:

Janice Person

Hopefully, this sort of thing becomes more common. Until then, keep reaching out. Keep advocating. Keep making friends and supporting people with different methods than you. A unified agricultural front is a strong one. “United we stand, divided we fall.”
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