LOUISVILLE, Ky. — FFA members at the National FFA Convention
saw a preview of the new documentary film, Farmland, that features several young
farmers and ranchers in their 20s from various parts of the U.S.
The trailer was introduced during the third general session
of the convention by Katie Pratt, a spokesperson for the U.S. Farmers and
Ranchers Alliance, the group that supported this new film.
Farmers and ranchers are sharing their stories in many ways,
including on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and YouTube.
“We are on TV, and this fall we’re going to be on the big
screen,” Pratt said. “James Moll has directed a film trailing six young farmers
Prior to introducing the sneak preview of the film, which
will be released in early 2014, Pratt talked about how the FFA organization gave
her a spark that has continued into her adult life.
“We all have sparks — maybe you scored the winning point in
a basketball game, maybe you aced a test, maybe you placed in a CDE or maybe you
bought a truck,” she said.
“Regardless, we all have sparks — that moment that triggers
for us the purpose, the reason why we get up every morning and for me this
jacket was it,” she noted. “The blue jacket gave me skills and experience to be
able to share my spark and today my spark is agriculture.”
The new Farmland film hopefully will trigger a spark for
more people to get involved in the food and farm dialogue, Pratt said.
“There is a fire blazing right now about farming and food,
and people are asking questions because they what to know where their food comes
from, who raised it, how it was raised and when did it get to the store,” she
For many years, most farmers have been too busy farming to
answer these questions.
“So other people have been filling in the blanks, often
times with misinformation and with opinions not based on generational knowledge
or education,” Pratt said.
She and her husband, Andy, raise corn, soybeans and seed
corn on their north-central Illinois farm, and they are the parents of Ethan and
Although, Pratt said, her family does not watch a lot of
television, about four years ago Ethan discovered Ice Road Truckers.
“The language is colorful, so we spend a lot of time talking
about why people use certain language,” she noted.
The family also has discovered another poplar TV show, Duck
“There’s a show that I don’t have to be concerned about
content,” Pratt said. “It’s safer than most cartoons.”
One morning before school, Pratt’s children were watching
Duck Dynasty, and she asked them why they chose that show instead of Ice Road
“My daughter said they liked Duck Dynasty better because
there are not as many beeps,” she told the FFA members at the convention.
“The conversation about farming and food is full of beeps —
accusations, allegations and misinformation,” she stressed. “If we don’t listen
first and speak second, this effort at creating a civil conversation around
farms and food will be nothing but a battle of beeps.”
Pratt explained this is not an exclusive opportunity.
“You don’t have to be a 24/7 farmer or rancher to talk about
agriculture — if you ate today, you’ve already joined the conversation,” she
“I believe you have a unique opportunity because you are
sitting in a classroom every day, learning about the basic fundamentals of
growing a seed and of taking care of an animal,” she added. “Then many of you
through FFA are taking your class knowledge and sharing it with your community —
that’s joining the conversation.”
Pratt highlighted several FFA chapters from throughout the
U.S. that have been honored as Model of Innovation winners over the past couple
“The Stanley-Boyd FFA Chapter in Wisconsin served up
agricultural knowledge over breakfast of pancakes, eggs, sausage, applesauce and
cheese curds,” she said. “They talked about modern dairy farming and modern
The Riverdale FFA Chapter in Tennessee created a one-day
animal science academy.
“They partnered with community business leaders as teachers
and the members learned about animal care, animal welfare and the need for
veterinary science,” Pratt said.
“The Flippin FFA Chapter in Arkansas turned to social media
in a big way by creating YouTube videos and posters that had QR codes on them
for display at the Arkansas State Fair,” she said. “Folks could scan the codes,
watch the video and get linked to the chapter and state FFA association Facebook
Pratt talked about these chapters because their projects are
something all FFA chapters could be doing.
“In each instance, they were taking the knowledge they
learned and sharing it with their community — it really is that simple,” she
“FFA members, you are already part of the farm, food
dialogue,” she said.
“I don’t care what crop you grow, what livestock you raise,
what size of farm you have or the method of production you use,” Pratt said. “We
all need to come to the table and tell my farm story.
“Whatever your story is FFA members, I encourage you to be
the spark,” she said.