10 facts to help your elevator speech for agriculture

Much discussion has occurred about the EPA’s renewed interest in addressing the effects of pesticides on endangered species. Everyone in the agricultural industry is concerned about the potential loss of products and the implementation of additional management practices to mitigate their off-target movement from both drift and runoff.

Protecting the environment and endangered species is a good thing, but so is protecting American farmers and their ability to feed and clothe our country and world. I would argue that the American farmer should now also be considered an endangered species.

In 2020, direct on-farm employment accounted for only 1.4% of all U.S. employment. Many folks who are pointing fingers at our industry have no clue about how food is grown, or the absolute need for pesticides as one component of a total pest management program, and that most growers have a long-term legacy/commitment to their land. Who could possible care more about the environment than a farmer?

Is my opinion, after spending 32 years in Extension, our industry (me included) has not done a sufficient job telling the 2nd Greatest Story Ever Told. Why is it that we barely (never) see a high-profile celebrity or athlete bragging about the American farmer? They appear to be very well-fed, clothed, and housed. Assuming normal supply chain activity, most Americans can get just about any kind of food or drink they want at any hour of the day or night. That does not happen by accident!

One of the things I ask my graduate students to do is have an “elevator speech” ready when they encounter someone who might be anti-pesticide and/or extra concerned about the environment. I think everyone in our industry should also have one of these talks ready as well.

Here are 10 facts to help you with your own elevator speech:

It is never easy to talk to somebody that already has their mind made up. It is important to have a convincing elevator speech about the many benefits of agriculture and the need for the judicious use of pesticides.

Nobody can tell that story more convincingly as the American farmer!I am also very hopeful that the powers that be will keep the American farmer off the endangered species list by implementing newer pesticide policies based upon sound science.

As always, good weed hunting!

Prostko is a UGA Extension Weed Specialist and regular contributor to Southeast Farm Press.

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