Noble Guedon- Giving ag a voice Agriculture has many voices, from the farmers who grow our food to the environmental scientists, veterinarians, equipment operators and truck drivers who work behind the scenes. And thanks to a campaign called Farm Families of Mississippi, their voices are being heard more loud and clear than ever. Launched in 2010 by the Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation, Farm Families of Mississippi is working to help consumers realize the importance of agriculture, dispel myths and create awareness about where our food comes from through radio, television and billboard ads. “American consumers enjoy one of the safest, most affordable and most abundant food supplies in the world,” says Randy Knight, president of the Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation. “Because this success story is often buried beneath negative messages generated by activist groups, I am proud to say our nation’s farmers have begun participating in the ongoing dialogue about the food, fiber and fuel we produce. Whether it’s a booth in a grocery store, a speaking engagement before a civic club, or a statewide media effort, farmers are teaching consumers to support a strong American industry. We have joined the conversation.” Farm Families of Mississippi discusses farmers’ care of their animals, America’s safe and affordable food supply, farmers’ care of the environment and how buying locally grown products is the No. 1 way to support the economy. “The general public is three or four generations away from the farm, so they don’t always understand the impact of legislation on what goes on on the farm,” says Greg Gibson, staff coordinator of Farm Families of Mississippi for the Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation. “We’re telling the public if they wear clothes and eat three meals a day, they are already very invested in agriculture. But people aren’t making that connection – kids think food comes from the grocery store.” Noble Guedon is a fifth-generation farmer who grows corn, soybeans, cotton and rice in Natchez. He chairs the Farm Bureau’s Communications Committee, which is made up of 12 Mississippi farmers from various farming backgrounds, from row crops to livestock. “Farming is in my genes. It’s a way of life, not just a business,” Guedon says. “But only 2 percent of the U.S. population is involved in production agriculture today, so our voice is a lot smaller than it used to be. We realized there was a problem getting our voices heard.” Guedon has appeared in TV ads for Farm Families of Mississippi, talking about his love for the land, pride he takes in his work and how we can’t rely on other countries with contaminated air and water to provide our families with safe, nutritious food. “Farm Families of Mississippi is enlightening people’s perspectives on the effort that goes into getting food from the field to the table. Farmers often spend more time nourishing their crops than with their families,” Guedon says. “This program is allowing farmers to interact with the public and answer their questions.” Support for the campaign skyrocketed from 20 sponsors in 2010 to more than 175 sponsors in 2012. The ads began in the Jackson market, followed by the Gulf Coast, Greenville, Tupelo and Hattiesburg. Eventually, they will appear statewide. In June 2013, Farm Families of Mississippi installed a new exhibit at the Mississippi Agriculture and Forestry Museum in Jackson with two kiosks containing iPads that teach visitors about different aspects of agriculture. There’s also a kiosk with an educational game on a touchscreen computer called My American Farm that engages technology-savvy kids. “Farmers rank high in the public’s perception, right in the top two or three occupations in studies. But the public separates a farmer from agriculture, and agriculture sometimes gets a black eye because people get bad information,” Gibson says. “Farmers are so efficient and so good at what they do that they’ve been their own worst enemy, because people forget how important they are. We’re telling their stories.”

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