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Get your seat at the table, before you're on the menu

Be engaged, stay active, keep yourself aware. As farmers, we hear it all the time. We need to stay involved and keep ourselves up to date on everything. New regulations, incoming laws, restrictions, tax changes, there is always something that is changing that will affect our business and the way we farm.

If I have heard it once, I have heard it 100 times. "If you don't have a seat at the table, you will be on the menu". Farmers need to stay engaged in conversations outside our choir because if we don't, we will be on the agenda. Think about it. In your personal life, would you rather be present for a critique of your work or be talked about behind your back. I would rather be present to defend myself or to just say my opinion or fact check the story.

I have met many that prefer to just stand back and observe or stay out of the lime light and many times those people have a lot to lose. It may seem like the safe way out. However, if you think you are staying out of it, others are out there speaking up and sometimes they aren't sharing the right message. The only way to control the message is to be the one sharing it.

Now, I am not saying that we all need to be out front and center on everything you hear going on in your industry or line of business. I am saying, stay engaged and know when you need to step up. It is better to be educated about an issue and not have it affect you, then to not know about an issue and be affected by it.

There are many opportunities farmers take advantage of to stay engaged and educated on issues. At the beginning of the month, I was taking advantage of an opportunity and attended our California Farm Bureau Annual Meeting. Farm Bureau is one example of an organization that helps farmers stay informed and advocates for farmers on many issues and regulations. Throughout the nation there are many examples of organizations that help the local farmer. Whether is it your local commodity board, farm bureau or affiliate organization- get engaged!

I not only participate in Farm Bureau by being a local member and member of the board of directors but I decided my time was best used to volunteer at the state level as well. For the past six years I have served on our State Young Farmers and Ranchers Committee and this month I was elected Chair of California Young Farmers & Ranchers for the upcoming year. I hope this table gives me a seat to be able to better advocate for the new farmers and share our struggles and trials in starting a new business or bridging the gaps in taking over generational farms.

As a young farmer I think it is even more important to stay engaged and grab that seat at the table. We are often looked at as the set up crew, the bartenders, the youngens, or the party folk. But let me tell you, we are the next generation of farmers. We are the future Farm Bureau Presidents, the upcoming State Senators, the next CEO, we are the future. It is our chance to learn from the past and build a future for our industry, our business and our livelihoods. Now is the time to be engaged.

I am grabbing my seat at the table before I am on menu.

Until Next Time,
Almond Girl Jenny


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