A Message from the President – Mike McCormick
Chocolate Milk from a Brown Cow
If you’ve ever had a child tell you that chocolate milk comes from a brown cow, then you understand why Farm Bureau works so hard to teach children about agriculture.
Today’s schoolchildren are tomorrow’s leaders. It’s important they understand that a farmer milked a dairy cow that produced the white milk that was later made into the chocolate milk they so enjoy. Likewise, a farmer toiled for hours under a hot sun to grow the fruits and vegetables or to raise the beef cattle, catfish, poultry and hogs that are processed into the meat products that are sold at their local grocery store.
In all of their efforts, farmers use the latest technology and science-based production methods, while taking very good care of their animals and our nation’s land, air and water.
One of the best ways we have of teaching kids where their food comes from is our Ag in the Classroom program. Each year, staff members and volunteer leaders take agricultural materials into classrooms across the state. We encourage educators to teach their students about our food and fiber system and the critical role agriculture plays in our economy and society.
Children aren’t the only ones we target with our educational efforts. The average American is at least three generations removed from the farm. In fact, farm and ranch families now make up less than 2 percent of the U.S. population. We must make sure all consumers support farmers. A strong domestic agriculture industry is critical to the security and wellbeing of our nation.
The Farm Families of Mississippi (FFM) Agriculture Promotion Campaign is a great program for reaching consumers with the farmer’s story. We spearhead this endeavor, but hundreds of organizations and individuals support it. Farm Families started out locally in media markets in the Jackson area. Today, the Farm Families network has grown to include eight TV stations in all media markets in Mississippi, the statewide Public Broadcasting Network, additional cable systems all over north and central Mississippi, and more than 115 billboards in high-traffic areas around the state.
This issue of our membership magazine carries photo coverage of the annual Farm Families fundraising dinner held in Jackson in October. The dinner featured Mississippi watercolorist Wyatt Waters and Mississippi restaurateur, chef and author Robert St. John, who did a great job of headlining the program. I want to thank everyone who made this event such a big success.
Yet another means of getting the farmer’s story out to consumers is our Public Policy program. This past year, we made sure that Farm Bureau’s voice was heard on countless issues of concern to farmers. We visited Washington, D.C., many times. We spent a great deal of time in meetings here in Mississippi. We even traveled to Cuba as part of a trade mission led by our governor. We have a great group of lawmakers both locally and nationally who are very open to working with Farm Bureau and Mississippi agriculture. For that, we are most thankful.
In summary, because most of today’s consumers are generations removed from the farm, Farm Bureau must work hard to make sure these men, women and children hear the correct information about agriculture, preferably straight from a Mississippi farmer. Because today’s consumers get their information from many different sources, our message must always be front and center, stronger and clearer than all the rest. We can’t afford to have outsiders telling our story for us.
As I conclude my first message of the new year, I want to remind you that the 2018 Session of the Mississippi Legislature convenes at noon on Jan. 2. I plan to spend a great deal of time at the Capitol this session, and I hope to see you there as well.
As we begin yet another year of service to Farm Bureau, I want to remind you that my door is always open. I welcome your thoughts, your ideas and your dreams for our organization.
I look forward to working with you in the coming year, and as always, I appreciate all you do for Farm Bureau.
Have a happy and blessed 2018.