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Source: Minnesota Farm Credit news release

Minnesota farmers feed families, fuel the economy, care about their communities and are stewards of the environment. And today they are getting help telling their story thanks to a grant from Minnesota's Farm Credit organizations.

AgStar Financial Services, AgCountry Farm Credit Services, United FCS, and AgriBank are providing $55,000 to the program that identifies, recruits and trains Minnesota farmers and ranchers to be effective spokespersons for agriculture and farming.

"Encouraging farmers and ranchers to tell their own story is important, because so many consumers don't know a lot about agriculture," said John Monson, senior vice president of investments in rural America at AgStar. "This program not only teaches people where their food comes from, but also how agriculture is vital to our communities and the world."

As the public has moved in growing numbers to urban and suburban areas, people are increasingly removed from American agriculture. The Minnesota Farm Bureau initiated the Speak for Yourself (SFY) program in 2010 to bridge the communication gap between consumers and farmers and ranchers.

As the name implies, Speak for Yourself empowers farmers to tell their stories in their own words. Farmers are trained on how to talk about why they do what they do, address issues in agriculture and present their stories with confidence.

After completing the training, the program connects these farmers with opportunities to speak to various groups and organizations. Farmers get to tell their stories, and audiences benefit from first-hand accounts from the people on the front lines of agriculture.

"Supporting programs and tools that equip farm families to share the story of today's food systems aligns perfectly with our mission," said Marc Knisely, CEO of United FCS. "As consumers, we all benefit from first-hand awareness of the care and passion that farm families put into feeding the world and the support they deserve in accomplishing that feat."

"Programs like Speak for Yourself are key to educating consumers about agriculture," agreed Bob Bahl, CEO of AgCountry Farm Credit Services. "There is nothing more important than sharing accurate information about the agriculture and nothing is more convincing than real stories where people connect emotionally with the presenter."

As a farmer-owned cooperative and the largest source of agricultural loans in the country, Farm Credit knows the importance of sharing agriculture's story. An educated public will make better decisions as consumers shape policy decisions important to the future of American agriculture.

"Farmers aren't always comfortable talking about themselves," said Bill York, AgriBank's CEO. "But if you're not telling your story, someone else will tell it for you. When you can look somebody in the eye and say, 'This is why I do what I do' it will always have the biggest impact."

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