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Agriculture advocates root up origins of A&M's focus

Published: Monday, January 14, 2013

Updated: Monday, January 14, 2013 23:01

With the goal to revitalize agriculture as one of the core purposes of A&M’s existence, “Farmer’s Fight” is an agricultural advocacy movement founded last year. The movement is dedicated to promoting agricultural awareness to students of the University. The initiative aims to construct a renewed focus on agriculture towards college students.

The movement works to promote a positive and educated understanding of American agriculture through educational events and media publicity. This would enable people to better understand how vital agriculture is to the nation, economy and way of life.

Mason Parish, junior agricultural economics major, founded the group last year. Many of the college organizations have united to increase awareness about modern agriculture as a part of this group.

“Farmer’s Fight is a student-led initiative to reconnect American society to the world of agriculture,” Parish said. “Beginning with Texas A&M University, Farmer’s Fight unites the student body to tell agriculture’s story, encourage customers to ask where their food comes from, and give students, faculty, public officials and farmers and ranchers an opportunity to become “agvocates” for the agriculture community.”

Farmer’s Fight is comprised of three pillars: “training the advocates,” “community outreach,” and “campus connect.” All three sectors are integral parts in carrying out the agenda of the organization.

“Training the advocates represents Farmer’s Fight’s mission to provide students with the communication skills necessary to become effective advocates for agriculture, and is held in the form of a local conference with speakers from the agriculture industry,” Parish said.

Once the training is over, the advocates are educated enough to be able to participate in the next step of community outreach.

“Community outreach provides students with the opportunity to reach out to those within the surrounding Bryan/College Station area through agriculturally-related classroom and community events,” Parish said.

Although community outreach branches out to a younger audience, the campus connect phase is necessary to reach out to the targeted group of people, which are college students. These are the people who will be most equipped and able to carry on the tradition of agriculture.

“The original idea and the third pillar of Farmer’s Fight, campus connect, is the accumulation of the year’s efforts in the form of a campus-wide advocacy day,” Parish said. “Booths are set up in highly populated areas across the entire campus in order to initiate conversations about agriculture amongst students. These booths represent the diversity of agriculture: from organic farmer’s markets, to animal agriculture, to food technology, to the fashion industry. The goal of campus connect is for every person who sets foot on Texas A&M’s campus to know that an agricultural event is taking place.”

Campus connect is better known to the student body as “Farmer’s Fight Ag Advocacy Day.” Last year, it included booths around campus that had the advocates readily available to educate and engage students into conversations regarding agriculture. This year’s Farmer’s Fight Day will take its debut on April 11th.

“This time we are planning to reach out to a larger audience and make the program more interactive,” Dakota Fleming, senior agriculture communications and journalism major and current ag advocate said.

The group strives to teach everyone how to care for animals, the land and the importance of producing safe, nutritious food for the world.

“Farmer's Fight is looking to raise campus engagement from our participation last year,” Danielle Harris, assistant dean for student success and advisor of the group said. “Our goal is to raise awareness with Texas A&M students about maintaining access to a safe food supply. Eventually, there will be nine billion hungry people in the world and thought must be given to how we will feed those people.”

Harris said that conversation starts by dispelling myths about where our food comes from and how it gets to grocery stores for our consumption. She said they are looking forward to addressing these issues this spring.

This year’s advocate conference will be held on March 21st. The conference is one of the basic entry points to get involved as an advocate, but students do have to sign up for the conference. It is open to all majors and there will be more information provided about the sign up for the training at a later date.

There is a meeting next Wednesday, January 23rd, however, in AGLS 115 at 7:30 p.m. for students who are interested in information on the organization.


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