Mike Rowe is best known for his television show, Dirty Jobs. But one of the jobs he's turned into a passion is advocating for agriculture.
"My theory is the American farmer is surrounded by a series of angry acronyms," Rowe said during a keynote speech late Monday at the 92nd American Farm Bureau Federation Annual Meeting in Atlanta. "I see a lot of other agendas pushing you."
Rowe has heard from the Humane Society of the United States, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration. HSUS. PETA. EPA. OSHA.
He's heard from them frequently following shows which feature dirty jobs on American farms. And in each case those organizations have been wrong in their assertions.
"What else are they wrong about?" Rowe wondered.
So he started trying to teach people about agriculture and some of the other jobs he highlights on his program. He created a website, www.MikeRoweworks.com. He also does specials called "Brown Before Green".
The theme of his specials is simple, Rowe said. "You find a farmer and scrape off the dirt, you'll find one of the greenest people on the plant."
Someone suggested Rowe be a spokesman for agriculture, but he said agriculture doesn't need a spokesman. It needs advocates.
"You don't need a spokesman. You are the spokesmen," Rowe said. "What you need is an advocate. You need lots of advocates."
He encouraged farmers and ranchers at the meeting to step forward and speak out in favor of their honorable profession, to provide consumers with information about what they do and how they do it. Some farmers already are taking that step through YouTube, AgChat, Facebook, through individual efforts and organized programs. More need to step out, he said.
"The rest of the country needs to understand what you guys do on a daily basis," Rowe said. "You guys feed 300 million people every single day. It's cool I think to have any conversation you want to have with any acronym that takes issue with whatever, but let's try and have it in the context of this incredible thing that you did today and that you're going to do tomorrow and that you're going to do next week."