Day In Farm Life: Off-Farm Perspective


As a part of my Day In Farm Life Series, I’ve been sharing thoughts from individual farmers. However, there’s so much more behind-the-scenes work that is done to convey the message to consumers. Madeline McCurry-Schmidt is a journalist for a group of scientists and researchers that promotes livestock and meat science. These peer-reviewed studies provide much great information for the animal science community, as well as works to close the gap between consumers and their food. Following are a few thoughts from Madeline on her perspect of off-farm agriculture involvement.

I have a confession: I do not work on a farm. I love animal science and plant science. I even love the smell of farms, but I’m not a farmer.

My job is to promote animal agriculture as I write about research and events for the American Society of Animal Science (ASAS). Every day I’m in contact with the people who make animal agriculture happen: scientists, veterinarians, and farmers. I come from a writing background, so learning from farmers is a chance to hear about a completely different world.

A highlight during work last week: I was interviewing an ag extension employee about how she uses Twitter to promote her work. Suddenly, our phone conversation was interrupted by the baa-ing of a very loud sheep. “I’m feeding the herd right now,” my interviewee explained. This episode helped me realize how intense life is for a farmer. Sure, you have set times to feed the sheep, but life on the farm never stops. Animal give birth, animals get sick. There’s no nine to five shift.

As a science writer, I’ve also realized that there’s a huge divide between consumers and farmers. People don’t think about where their food comes from.

Animal welfare controversies are a good example of this divide. Voters demand larger cages for hens without thinking about the economic impact on the farmers. People assume pigs will always be happier in groups, but they don’t consider the stresses for animals in new social environments.

Farmers are important, but I think those who report on farming issues are important too.

I don’t produce meat or crops, but I do produce support for farmers. I try to write about animal agriculture in a way that will be interesting for the public. This public includes the legislators and public officials who make important decisions regarding farms. I hope my writing helps educate consumers and provides a chance for farmers to share important information. I’m really proud to be a part of farming—even if I participate from behind a desk.

You can follow my writing on the Taking Stock newsletter or the ASAS Graduate BULLetin. If you have any ideas for animal agriculture articles please email MadelineMS@assochq.org.

Madeline’s posts can be found on the ASAS website and you can follow them on Twitter (@CritterChatter). The day in farm life series continues all month long. If you or someone you know would like to submit a guest post, check out this post for more details.

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5 Comments

  1. Madeline

    I think it is important to have support from non-ag people, especially good media relations.

    Farmers and Ranchers are busy in the field, tending to animals, and all that revolves around those tasks. We don’t have the time or resources to do extensive PR work or research. Most do not have the education to be journalists, educators, scientists ect.

    Thank You for your work to promote Agriculture and to help educate the public. Also, to educate Farmers and Ranchers to help us do our job better.

    Like

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