Walt Bones challenges farmers to work together, tell their story
February 25, 2011
ABERDEEN, SD – Newly appointed South Dakota Secretary of Agriculture Walt Bones opened the 96th annual South Dakota Farmers Union State Convention at Aberdeen with an address focused on the future of the state’s largest industry, encouraging producers to work together and tell the positive story of agriculture and rural South Dakota.
Bones, who was appointed by Gov. Dennis Daugaard (R-SD), is a farmer from the Parker area. He challenged South Dakota Farmers Union members and convention delegates to be story tellers.
“We need to stay engaged. Our way of life is being defined by people who don’t know what we’re doing. And that’s our fault,” Bones said. “We need to tell our story. We have the moral and ethical obligation to our land, and we take it for granted. We have a great story to tell. Ninety-eight percent of all farms in South Dakota are family owned, we have 46,000 producers and agriculture supports 143,000 jobs.”
Secretary Bones talked about environmental activists and how they’re defining agriculture, “and their message isn’t accurate,” Bones said. He challenged producers to embrace social media, and use any means to get the positive message of agriculture to those who don’t know what the industry is really about.
“There’s no better spokesman than you folks, the people living off the land. We have a great amount of credibility; we just don’t get out there and tell our story good enough,” said Bones.
The Department of Agriculture, according to Secretary Bones, is working on an agriculture forum to get groups together because he says it’ll take a united front to tell agriculture’s story to the general public.
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“We need to work together, groups like Farmers Union, it’s that common ground that brings us all together. We take these core values and traditions and hopefully we can adopt and adapt our organizations and our farms so we can have a prospering rural farm economy that’s relevant in a 21st century society.”