Through the sponsorship of Long Island Farm Bureau, I was able to attend the American Agri-Women Conference in Denver, Colorado. I was able to meet up with my classmates from the Syngenta Leadership Conference that I attended last April and made many new farmer friends from all over the United States. The main theme of the American Agri-Women Conference was to be able to tell our own story about agriculture. Silence means consenting, so speak up!

How do we tell our story? We should tell our story with truth. We as producers have choices, consumers have choices, we need to educate by telling the truth. Surround yourself with good, knowledgeable and supportive people. Sometimes risk taking, or speaking on what you believe in, is essential. Promote what you love; don’t bash on the negative so much; try to be proactive. We will not always win an issue, but be grateful and graceful — speak from the heart. Do not let the noise of others’ opinions drown you out. You must follow your heart and mission and be so good at what you do that people take notice. It is amazing how one word of encouragement can change your way of thinking. We want to be the ones on the news media, telling our story!

Ways to do this: Put together a 30 second snippet about what you do that you can relay to someone in the elevator for example. In my case, it is my farm stand. I feel I am constantly answering questions about farming. Learn how to use Facebook, Twitter, You Tube or a blog to share your story.
Issues discussed at this year’s conference were the farm bill, labor, estate tax and animal welfare.

Tours I attended were Mays Farm. This operation took a barn and converted it into an event hall to host different activities to educate at their farm. I also visited the Celestial Tea Factory. It was nestled in a valley with mountains all around. The inside of the building smelled heavenly with all the many aromas used to make their celestial teas. Other tour choices were the Coors beer brewery and Con-agra flour mill, which I heard were very interesting as well.

I would like to also mention the many tools offered to you if you are a member of American Agri-Women. The organization has a resource center for facts and tools you can use to educate the public on the truth of American Agriculture. Scholarships are offered for Syngenta Leadership Conference, AAW Conference, AAW D.C. fly-in to discuss agricultural issues with our state and national representatives, and a legacy scholarship where you can bring your son or daughter with you to the AAW fly-in. There is also a book club. The book being read for December and January is called, “The Try”, by James P. Owen. He was one of the many keynote speakers at the conference. His book is about cowboy ethics and values that can be applied to all American Dreams, not just that of a cowboy. I learned that trying is what separates the doers and leaders in us from the dreamers and wannabes.

A lot of people can come up with an idea for a great invention, a new product or company, but very, very few ever follow through with the months or years of hard work it takes to bring their ideas and labors to fruition. I end my report with this: I believe this describes a farmer and that is why it is up to us to tell our story.

To become a member it is $55.00 a year. Becoming a New York Agri-Women also makes you a member of American Agri-Women. Just go to for more info.

American Agri-Women Annual Meeting by: Debbie Schmitt