Brad Greenway is more optimistic than ever about the opportunities ahead for farmers and ranchers. Last week, he turned over the reins in his role as chairman of the U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance to Maryland farmer Chip Bowling. Farm Journal’s PORK had the opportunity to visit with this former America’s Pig Farmer of the Year while he was back on the farm.
Q. How did you become involved with USFRA?
A. I was serving on the National Pork Board when the USFRA formed eight years ago. A group of leaders from the beef, corn, soybean and pork industries teamed up with the American Farm Bureau to create a stronger voice for agriculture. I began serving on the USFRA board representing the pork industry six years ago and just wrapped up a two-year term as chairman. I will serve as past chairman for the upcoming year.
Q. Tell us about your farming operation.
A. My wife, Peggy, and I have a diversified farm near Mitchell, S.D., where we raise pigs, cattle, corn, soybeans and wheat. Like all farms, we have evolved over the years by taking advantage of new techniques and technologies, from modern climate controlled pig barns to using precision technology with growing crops. The next generation, our employee and our son, are instrumental in helping to implementing these changes on our farm. It is exciting to see the future of agriculture is in good hands.
Q. What are you most proud of when you reflect back on the past two years?
A. I take great pride in our organization going to places that agriculture normally wouldn’t go alone. We’ve earned a seat at the table where farmers typically were not invited to sit. For example, a month ago I was at Wall Street Journal Food Forum and experienced a proud moment. I walked into the meeting room and saw farmers and farm groups in the audience, speaking on panels, etc. We are a part of those conversations now. Going forward, as our CEO Erin Fitzgerald, the staff and the board continue to build the collaboration between all facets of the farm to table food chain, I believe this unified voice will become an even more powerful resource.
Q. From your perspective, how does USFRA serve consumers?
A. If people are truly longing for information about how their food is grown, we can be a resource for that. We want to share our story and invite people “out to the farm.” Through technology, we can bring consumers from anywhere to our South Dakota farm and show them what sustainability looks like for us. We can explain how machinery advancements and technology are making our farm better.
Q. Why do we need to get the younger generation more interested in the food dialogue?
A. Kids are being influenced at an earlier age. How do we get agriculture into those conversations? I’m very proud of our film, Farmland. It shows what happens on the farm and exposes the next generation to why we do what we do. Our goal with the film was to get young people excited about agriculture. We then teamed up with Discovery Education because we wanted to get agriculture into the school curriculum.
Q. What is the greatest challenge facing agriculture today?
A. The greatest challenge we face is the misperception of what happens on our farms and ranches. We have a great story to share – a story of sustainability, improved production practices, greater efficiencies, and more. I am proud of the improvements we have made to our own farm, and especially proud of the improvements farmers and ranchers have made to the industry as a whole. We need to share this with the consuming public, retailers, and decisionmakers.
Q. What gives you hope about the future?
A. The future is bright. When I think about the next generation, they will be so much more engaged with the public than my generation. Think about how much has changed from a technology standpoint in the past 10 years. What will change in the next five years?
Q. What advice do you have for farmers and ranchers moving forward?
A. There are a lot of amazing things going on in agriculture and out on the farm. Take advantage of technology to share your farm’s story. It doesn’t matter if I’m in Mitchell, S.D., speaking to a group or in Washington, D.C. People really are interested and want to know more about how their food is produced. We need to run with that opportunity every chance we get.