Jan. 22 2013 09:47 AM

Will Gilmer made the final cut in the inaugural U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance Faces of Farmers and Ranching national spokesperson search.

by Lucas Sjostrom, contributing editor

Of the two dairy producers making the finals of a new contest, one was successful. This morning, Will Gilmer, a dairyman from Sulligent, Ala., was announced as one of the four "Faces of Farmers and Ranching." We talked about Will as one of two dairy farmer finalists in our November 21, 2012, blog.

The U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance held the first ever contest in an effort to put a face on farmers. Along with Will, Chris Chinn (Mo.), Katie Pratt (Ill.), and Bo Stone (N.C.) round out the winners. The four will team up to share their stories with the public. They also each receive a stipend of $10,000. You can learn more about our four new farmer representatives at www.fooddialogues.com/faceswinners/.

The U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance is a collaboration of many commodity groups from around the country. The National Milk Producers Federation, our industry's largest lobbying group is a member.

If you want to learn more about USFRA, I would recommend checking out their Food Dialogues program as they begin conversations with consumers online. They've also aired commercials on the Discovery Channel and similar formats.

You can join their F.A.R.M. team to help ensure more voices are heard. F.A.R.M. in this case stands for the Farmers and Ranchers Mobilization as rapid responders to offer perspectives to other farmers and ranchers around the U.S. This way, questions aren't answered by a single source, but a collective group of farmers from across the U.S.

More than just commercials
In our December 2012 issue, we shared new research conducted by USFRA. If you read the editorial "Consumers don't want our safe, cheap food" (page 794), you know that many of our old messages are, well, old. Update your vocabulary to better communicate to consumers. The underlying message is the same, but how we present it needs to change.

No doubt, the four selected as "Faces of Farming and Ranching" will help us continue the conversations. But remember that all of us can do our part to help them; put your best face for agriculture on as you interact with local businesses, local government and neighbors.