By Linda Benedict, LSU AgCenter
NEW ORLEANS — More face-to-face communication with the urban population is one of the strongest tools farmers can use to help public perception of the family farm, according to Bret Lee, 19, of Abbeville who took first place in the Talk Meet Contest at the 96th Annual Convention of the Louisiana Farm Bureau Federation.
The Vermilion Parish youth, who will be a sophomore in public relations at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette this fall, said Farm Bureau and other farm organizations can help bring this about by sponsoring more events for farmers to meet directly with consumers and help dispel myths and correct misinformation about today’s farming practices.
Other tools for more communication include social media, agri-tourism opportunities and farmer’s markets.
These points were echoed among the other nine presentations in this annual competition at the convention, which is for 15- to 19-year-olds. The subject they were to address was “How can Farm Bureau help the public perception of the family farm?”
Second place went to Wesley Adolph, 18, of Napoleonville in Assumption Parish, who will be a philosophy major at St. Joseph Seminary College in Covington this fall. The third-place winner was Bailey Ann Nelson, 19, of Lake Charles in Calcasieu Parish, who will be a sophomore in mass communication and agriculture education at McNeese State University in Lakes Charles this fall.
Lee competed in last year’s Talk Meet competition, but did not place. Over the past year he has developed his speaking skills as an ambassador with the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, traveling to Arkansas and Colorado.
“I have been involved in agricultural advocacy my whole life by being a member of 4-H and a contestant in the National Beef Ambassador contest,” said Lee, whose family operates a family farm. He plans to continue his advocacy for agriculture with a career in public relations.
Founded in 1922, the Louisiana Farm Bureau Federation is the state’s largest general farm organization representing more than 140,000 member families.