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NewsTribune photo/Goldie Currie Agriculture advocate Katie Pratt, a seventh-generation farmer in Lee County, was the guest speaker at the Bureau County Farm Bureau annual meeting on Thursday. Pratt spoke about her experiences and surprising discovery that she could be a spokesman for agriculture.
PRINCETON — The Bureau County Farm Bureau had its 98th annual meeting this week at Wise Guys Restaurant in Princeton.
State senators Darin LaHood and Sue Rezin attended the meeting, as well as, state representatives Don Moffitt and David Leitch.
The 2013 board of directors and officers of the Farm Bureau were elected. Bill Naffziger was re-elected as president, Rex Elmore was re-elected as vice president, Larry Magnuson was re-elected as secretary and Curtis Marcum was re-elected as treasurer. The re-elected officers will serve a one-year period.
Charles Meisenheimer was elected to serve as district 1, seat 1 director; Evan Hultine was elected to serve as district 2, seat 2 director; Rock Ioder was elected to serve as district 3, seat 1 director; Art Seeds was elected to serve as district 4, seat 2 director and Charles Abell was elected to serve as an at-large, seat 1 director. The board of directors and at-large director will serve a two-year period.
Ray Rouse resigned from his position as district 3 director, after serving seven years. Rouse was appointed director for Milo Township in 2005 to fill an unexpired term.
Following the business meeting, the audience heard from seventh-generation farmer Katie Pratt of Lee County, who was one of four finalists in the 2012 American Farm Bureau Young Farmer and Rancher Discussion Meet. Pratt has a long-term goal of becoming the voice of American agriculture.
“That goal has stuck with me and has helped guide decisions and many conversations that I’ve shared about agriculture,” she said.
In college, she found herself becoming a vocal and defensive farm girl facing fellow urban classmates.
“I got so frustrated at their misinformed, uneducated views about farming and small-town country life,” she said.
Pratt said at the time, farmers and ranchers were being told to fight their battle with fact.
“You can’t argue with fact,” she said. “And yet we are being argued all the time on our facts. We were then, and we still are today.”
Pratt said only recently have agriculture organizations stood up, taken notice and formed Illinois Farm Families. She explained how their research, which is consumer-based, has uncovered surprising results. She said it has been discovered that most consumers like farmers, but don’t understand farming. They also discovered that consumers are afraid of the farmers’ facts and the unknown of what’s to come.
Today, Pratt uses social media and sits on panels around the country to advocate and be the voice of agriculture. Her advice to farmers is to recommit to themselves and to their families and farming.
“We farm with intention and purpose,” she said.
Pratt asked that farmers continue to make good decisions, care for the natural resources and keep the farm gates open for questions that will come from consumers.
“I know that what’s happening in the country is good and we are making the right decisions,” she said.
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