Finding The Common Ground

Nebraska Notebook

Consumers do have legitimate questions about how food is produced, and that's why organizations like CommonGround Nebraska began.

Published on: January 25, 2013

There's never enough time in the day on the farm or ranch. There are no fixed hours. You have to get the crops in and the cattle moved. Fix meals. Get the kids to school. Attend school events.

Sometimes it's managed chaos. But farm families wouldn't have it any other way.

Most impressive, to me, are the men and women who, in addition to their farm and family obligations, choose to stand up and defend their industry. It's not your grandfather's agriculture anymore, although consumers still envision pastoral scenes of small farms from the 1940s and 50s and are more likely to believe newspaper articles, TV reports and Internet postings from the anti-ag crowd.

Yet, consumers do have legitimate questions about how food is produced, and that's why organizations like CommonGround Nebraska began.

CommonGround has no real staff. Supported by the Nebraska Soybean Board and Nebraska Corn Board, it relies on the skill and enthusiasm of 12 Nebraska farm wives who tell ag's story. They are busy women, but women with a cause and a passion for agriculture.

Women like Dawn Caldwell of Aurora, a beef producer from Edgar who works for the Aurora Cooperative and is a Nebraska Beef Council director. And Diane Becker of Madison, farm wife, Nebraska Soybean Association, and columnist for Nebraska Farmer.

They serve as the connection to urban moms who want healthy food for their kids and want to know how that food produced. But the latter have little knowledge of how today's modern agriculture works.

Who better to reach out to them than farm moms who, by the way, want healthy and safe food for their kids? The difference is they know how it's produced.

What do they do? They go to supermarkets to meet directly with consumers. They speak at all sorts of meetings. They host tours of their farms. They visit with media. They blog and use Facebook, Twitter and YouTube to tell their stories.

In the February Nebraska Farmer, we have an article on three new Nebraska CommonGround volunteers: Lana Hoffschneider of Waco, Dawn Kucera of Madison and Sharon Portenier of Harvard.

Adds Caldwell, "At the end of the day, we want consumers to know that American farmers and ranchers are not only working hard to produce their food but we are also trying to be more transparent about what we do and why we do it. We want them to be confident about feeding their families."

Well said.

They can always use more volunteers to defend agriculture. It's time to sign up.

For more information on CommonGround, go to www.findourcommonground.com.