Today was like any other day. Frigid temperatures outside, tons of work to do to get the startup I am involved in up and running, kids basketball and swimming practice, a crazy amount of errands that seem impossible to complete, and an insane amount of data integration from multiple spreadsheets and databases.
And then there is this.
By this, I mean a blog post by Nathan Winters (@follownathan). In this post it is stated that The AgChat Foundation is as follows:
....Hide behind and exploit the American Farmer at any cost.I am all up for a discussion and debate about the US food system; inadequacies included. And there are certainly inadequacies. A food supply chain is complicated enough at the local level and the complexities compound exponentially once we hit the global agri-supply chain. But the notion that the newly formed Agchat Foundation is hiding behind and exploiting the American Farmer is...how should I put this...false seems to be fitting. And naturally the comments section is full of folks that have yet to engage the foundation directly. Or if they have, it is already from a position of "I know what I know" so all discussions just serve to further their view point. Hey, if all you have is a hammer, everything you see is a nail, no? Sure does make it easy and simple, and not the simple we should strive for on the other side of complexity.
|Complexity is easy to talk about|
Speaking of simplicity and complexity, The Agchat Foundation has reached the simplicity level, thus the angst. It is easy to deal in complexities and very hard to deal in simplicity. The purpose and mission of the foundation is clear - empower farmers to share their story through social media. It doesn't say, implicitly or otherwise that it is for "large" farmers to share their story, organic farmers to share their story, grass-fed ranchers to share their story, or any of the other farming designations. It is simply for ALL farmers and ranchers to share their story. Let's be clear: ALL farmers and ranchers to share their story.
So, while it is all well and good to rumble with "BigAg", let's be sure you are in the right ring. Maybe the actual issue is with larger corporations holding such power in our democracy? I can understand that. Maybe it is due to lack of competition in the marketplace due to bad policy? That is worth discussing at length in more than just agriculture. There are a myriad of issues to fight for and I applaud people taking a stand for what they believe in. To call on a personal example if I may, I feel strongly that we have an access problem in certain parts of our country, indeed the world. But where I can make a difference is focusing on my community to build that access and create jobs. A robust, thriving local food economy with access to healthy calories is important. I, along with a few other passionate individuals are working to make this happen in my community and others. And it will take everyone. The farmer with 5 acres, the farmer with 5000 acres, local governance, local processing facilities, and retail establishments. At the same time, I know that there are other areas in our country and the world that need food, and I salute and support wholeheartedly the folks that are trying to deliver on this need as well.
But I digress from the actual point.
Nathan, if it is a rumble you want, by all means have at it. But your focus on a grassroots foundation that has open arms to every single farmer and rancher is misguided. It is at best cynicism and at worst detrimental to the field of agriculture. In all of your accusations, have you once attempted to attend one of the conferences that were published to everyone? I have, on my own dime, as did all the other attendees. Maybe, before making bold assertions, you should do what you did in order to research your book? Meet the faces of the foundation yourself, engage them, and then take quill to paper.
Nate J. Taylor
Photo Courtesy of Flickr user PhOtOnQuAnTiQue