By Amelia Kent
2019. Is. Here. While 2018 brought us some amazing honors and opportunities, it also brought us the most difficult personal challenges I’ve ever faced. I am not sorry to see the end of 2018. The new year finds us wrapping up calving season, and while the winter has been a wet one, we’re grateful that so far it’s been mild.
When discussing with a friend what the first few months of the new year holds in store, we were amazed at how busy the year is starting out. In January alone, I’m attending the American Farm Bureau Convention, Ag Expo in Monroe, and the Cattle Industry Convention. Coincidentally, this year both the AFBF and Cattle Conventions are in New Orleans, so at least I don’t have much traveling to do.
Some neighbors pick on me about being as busy as I am, keeping some of my obligations, and spending so much time away. Admittedly, it is hard to be away from the farm too long, but I prepare in advance and my husband and I make it work. Why are these obligations so important to me to warrant investing my time off the farm? I can narrow my motivation for my involvement to a single experience: I attended college near Boston, Massachusetts with incredibly intelligent women who genuinely thought the food chain starts at the grocery store.
Nobody needs a reminder of how tough 2018 was to many farmers and ranchers. Between trade renegotiations, consumers being swayed by marketing campaigns, animal rights activists, and anything in between, one could say farmers and ranchers have been catching it from all sides. I was even asked who will save the farmers. The answer is simple: we as farmers and ranchers must save ourselves.
We save ourselves by using our voices. If we don’t speak for ourselves, someone else will do so with their own agenda interlaced. My involvement in Farm Bureau is rooted in policy development at both the state and national levels. I also serve on the Louisiana Beef Industry Council and the Cattlemen’s Beef Board, both of which are charged with administering beef research and promotion. Producer groups such as these help farmers help ourselves. Whether developing our voices and encouraging advocacy, conveying our concerns to our policymakers, or connecting with consumers, these organizations inherently benefit all farmers and ranchers.
Although my 2019 is starting out busy, I am absolutely looking forward to the new year and the promise it holds. I’m also excited to celebrate AFBF’s centennial birthday, and am eager to see what the next century entails for American agrarians.
Amelia Kent and her husband, Russell, raise beef cattle and hay in East Feliciana Parish. Amelia is a past chair of Louisiana’s Young Farmers and Ranchers Committee, is currently a member of the - Partners in Advocacy Leadership program with AFBF, and serves on the Cattlemen’s Beef Board. Find them on Facebook at Kent Farms; or on Instagram and Twitter @kentfarms_la.