The U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance Faces of Farming & Ranching program has taken southern New Mexico farmer Jay Hill to places he never thought he’d go.
Hill, a second generation farmer who has a cattle herd and raises lettuce, pecans, cabbage, carrots, onions, red and green chili peppers, sudan, oats, wheat, alfalfa, sweet corn, field corn, watermelons and pumpkins on about 1,000 acres, said he’s traveled the country on behalf of the program that aims to put a real face on those involved in agriculture.
He attended eight events on behalf of USFRA over the past year and another nine events where he was invited to speak. The events have run the gamut from ag-friendly to non-ag-friendly.
Among the places he’s spoken at or represented USFRA: National Research Council in Washington, D.C., Culinary Institute of America in Napa Valley, California; a South by Southwest ECO event in Austin, Texas, and a National Press Foundation event at the Monsanto headquarters in St. Louis, Missouri. He left at 5:40 a.m. today for an Ag Tech Summit in San Francisco, California, on behalf of USFRA.
He’s learned a lot about himself and his operation during the process.
“As ag producers, we tend to think the general public is out to get us . . . nobody truly understands,” Hill said, “but we haven’t done a good job of explaining ourselves.”
When he started as a Face of Farming & Ranching in Jan. 1, 2015, he thought he’d change the world and impact the lives of others by sharing his story. The experience has both humbled and empowered him. He now understands he must communicate with people on their level. He can’t expect to change everyone’s heart.
“In ag, we always say we need to educate people more, but we don’t need to educate, people just want to know the truth," Hill said.
His term as a Face of Farming & Ranching ends Dec. 31, 2016. He was selected in 2014 to serve for one year and given the option to serve a second year.
This year, USFRA is seeking its third class of farmers and ranchers to serve as Faces of Farming & Ranching.
To apply for the Faces of Farming & Ranching program, farmers and ranchers must fill out an application form, available at http://www.FoodDialogues.com/Faces/Apply, and include a home video of less than three minutes describing themselves and their farm or ranch. Among other criteria, farmers and ranchers must have an existing social media presence, either through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and/or a blog. See videos from this year’s class at http://www.fooddialogues.com/faces. Information on the application process can be found at http://www.FoodDialogues.com/Faces/Apply. Entries will be accepted through July 10, 2016 at 11:59:59 PM CT.
A combination of public votes and USFRA judges' scores will determine the winners, who will be announced Nov. 9 at the National Association of Farm Broadcasting Convention (NAFB) in Kansas City.