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January 18, 2010


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Michelle Sidles

I just love your blog! That's all. :)


I was one of the 5,000 farmers present at that speech. I believe that you only heard part of what Stallman has said. If you would like hear the entire speech it is available here:


He is not asking us to declare war on consumers! He is asking us to stand up and talk about how we farm, and communicate our values, and convey that the way we farm is compatible with traditional ideals.

Farmers today are more than ever concerned with protecting our natural resources, animal care, and sustainability not only economically, but also environmentally as well as sustaining the food source for our population.

To Quote Stallmans speech:

"As I scan this hall, I see farmers who embrace all the tools of modern agriculture. I see people who choose modern organic production…I see folks who plant conventional seed and those who use biotechnology.

I see families who raise livestock in sheltered, climate-controlled conditions. I see feedlot operators. But also among our ranks here in Seattle, I see farm and ranch families who produce grass-fed beef, free-range pork and cage-free eggs.

These are the personal and business choices we have made about how best to serve consumers.

Farm Bureau reflects all of agriculture.

We are comprised of farmers of all different political persuasions using a variety of production methods, all while executing unique marketing strategies. We have farmers who drive different brands of trucks, and different colors of tractors. We need all of you."

Farm Bureau represents farmers of all shapes and sizes. It is going to take all of us to meet the demands of a growing population. From Roof Top Gardens in the City, to the Corn Fields of Iowa farmers are growing food to meed the specific needs of all consumers.

Thank you,


Val Wagner

I'm sorry, but perhaps you should go to the Farm Bureau site and actually watch the whole speech. I was sitting in the second row and I heard something completely different.

What I took away from the speech was that now is a time for producers and consumers to come together. A time for producers to ask farmers directly any questions that they have regarding their food and fiber...not just take the words of activists as the truth, without so much as giving the actual producer a thought.

I think it is great that you are familiar with your food and use local markets to know where it comes from. There are producers that benefit from your attitude and desire to buy locally. There are also producers that provide food for the masses that don't take the time to know where their food is grown and raised. They don't know that cotton is a plant, wool comes from sheep and milk comes from cows. They are of the mindset that whatever they need comes from the supermarket and that's where it stops. This is the connection we, as producers, need to make.

It is not consumers that we are "declaring war" on. It is the lack of knowledge. It has been proven that public perception is shaped by those who speak out. And the farming community has long-since been one that is reluctant to tell our own story...and now that story is being told for us by those who would like to see our livelihood come to an end. So we need to start letting consumers, such as yourself, see us as we truly are...not the way others portray us.

You see, fewer and fewer farmers need to feed more people on less land every year. If you want to talk facts...you do the math. How does that pencil out? Yet, on the same hand, those producers are so busy trying to provide for others that they don't feel they have the time to respond to every negative letter-to-the-editor, Time story or Michael Pollan novel that misleads consumers. What Stallman is telling us, is that it is time to take the time.

So, it is not consumers that we are fighting...it is perception and information. And these are battles that we are becoming better equipped for.


Thanks for the comments. See the post for my response. I wish you the best in your vocation as farmers.

Debbie Lyons-Blythe

You are not the first one to think that the declaration against activism is against the consumer. It is important that we in agriculture are willing to listen as well as talk.

For too long we have minded our own business, and worked to feed the livestock, plant the crops and ignored what's going on with the consumer. But it is important for us to tell our story and invite the consumer to see what we're up to and to see how we do our jobs. But at the same time, we need to be willing to have a conversation (not just a speech) with the consumers. We need to understand their concerns and be willing to make changes or explain why we do certain things. A two-way conversation is always better than preaching at someone!

Thanks for your insight and reminder. I do believe that Mr. Stallman is calling for the true conversation, but in the article you read, it was not clear.

If you would like to pursue the conversation, I'd be happy to talk about life on a real cattle ranch in Kansas.


Thanks Debbie. I really appreciate your comment. I'll be in touch about that conversation. :)

Steve Smoot

I appreciate your work "to cultivate local food culture in our region . . ." Craig.

It looks a good deal like war rhetoric from this AFB president and I believe that was what it was intended to sound like: injustice has been inflicted upon us. we have an enemy, our cause is just.

Perhaps to some degree, this is true but quoting "Old Blood and Guts" Patton seems ill-advised. Remember it was "his guts but our blood."

I'm a little surprised when farmers "buy" so solidly into a system that has resulted in continual depletion of, among other things, the farm population. The food industry has done far more to drive farmers from the land than consumer interest in where their food comes from.

Promoting a healthful diet and a clean and safe environment is preferable to a declaration of war.


Thanks for the comment Steve. In many ways the metaphors we use create the world we live in. If we live within the metaphor of war than we can't help but engage the other as enemy. I agree that the war imagery was ill-advised and incredibly tone deaf. Like I said above, I'd love some clarification of who the enemy is.


The debate over food will only get more intense as information-age consumers make more and more informed choices. One-size-fits-all organizations like broadcast television networks and the American Farm Bureau will struggle to represent and serve diverse members and customers. The US Chamber of Commerce experienced a bit of that medicine when it failed to account for the self-interest that some of its corporate members have in supporting global warming legislation. If Stallman wants to keep trying to claim that his organic agriculture and food-producing (as opposed to commodity-producing) members will support his "line in the sand" he may start feeling the heat from within his own organization as well as from consumers who want more choices. I hope so. Thanks for all of your great posts Craig.


Intense is a good word for the food wars that seem to be brewing.

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