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Montana Logger
Encourages Ag Advocacy

Dedicate one hour a week to activism, says ag advocate.

Imagine how you might feel when your daughter’s prom date is standing on the porch and you’re about to meet him for the first time. Perhaps you’ve heard — or imagined — some not-so-flattering stories about this individual. You want him to answer your questions before he takes your daughter to the prom.


That’s the scenario Bruce Vincent asked attendees to consider during the Emerging Leaders Luncheon hosted at the 2018 Cattle Industry Convention in February. However, in his scenario, the agricultural industry is the boy on the porch, and the consumer is the parent at the door with questions they want answered.


“The public has had 50 years of bad news about us (agriculture), and we think we are standing there with a rose. But to them, we’ve got a rap sheet,” explained Vincent, a logger from Libby, Mont., who began speaking up for his industry and rural America three decades ago.


Vincent added, “We need to understand they have more questions. We need to explain what they’ve seen [in the media], and help them understand, ‘I’m not the kid you’ve heard I am.’ ”


To that, Vincent encouraged the audience to be engaged.


“Help craft a solution. Leaders need to hear from you,” he said, and added, “Democracy works, but it’s not a spectator sport.”


Vincent noted that the public “doesn’t trust a suit and tie … Science will never trump emotion.” Instead, he said, “We’ve got to package science with emotion. … Rural cultures need a trusted human face to share our story — and that face is yours. … We need to be the leaders of the discussion and be proud to carry our message.”


Specifically, Vincent emphasized ag advocacy should begin at home — with local media, local school and local leaders.


“One hour of your business week should be dedicated to activism,” said Vincent. He suggested giving a presentation at a school, attending a chamber of commerce meeting or posting ag stories and photos on social media. “Do something to promote your culture and your future,” he emphasized.


Vincent also said, “Tours work.” But he cautioned against focusing on the animals and instead advised putting the spotlight on the people. “They (the public) already love the cows. Focus on you and your family heritage.”


Regarding city folks who move into your rural community, Vincent also had words of advice. He noted, “They love the same thing you do (the scenic landscape and rural lifestyle), but we treat them like the enemy, and they turn into the enemy.”


To this he added, “Rural America has got to get rid of the ‘close the door behind us’ mentality. Welcome wagons need to come back. We need to meet them with a pie, and turn them into friends and teach them how to care for the culture they just bought into.”


“Be the kid on the porch with the rose and the good story to tell,” Vincent concluded.

 

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Editor’s Note: This article was written as part of Angus Media’s coverage of the 2018 Cattle Industry Convention and NCBA Trade Show.



 

 

 

 

 

 





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