By Cyndie Shearing
Crop farmer Stacey Lauwers of Michigan, who was recently elected chair of the American Farm Bureau Federation’s Promotion & Education Committee, sees promise in 2021.
“One goal for this year is to create an online hub that provides easy access to information and ideas for promotion and education about agriculture. This ‘one-stop shop’ is being developed so state Farm Bureaus can easily find resources and collaborate when assisting county Farm Bureaus in planning educational or consumer outreach events,” she explained. In addition to the existing programming, the committee is also developing several other resources and activities to be offered in the near future.
As chair of AFBF’s newest national program committee, which was launched in 2015, Lauwers often finds herself explaining its purpose and how it differs from the organization’s two other national program committees.
The stated mission of the P&E Committee is “to develop and centralize resources that inspire and equip Farm Bureau members to convey the significance of agriculture.” That contrasts with AFBF’s other national program committees, Women’s Leadership and Young Farmers & Ranchers, which are dedicated to strengthening and empowering members to be effective leaders and advocates for agriculture.
“We are part of an amazing and exciting industry,” Lauwers said. “Farmers and ranchers across our country are some of the hardest-working people I know. They do an incredible job of growing/raising food for communities beyond their own families.”
Although political advocacy is not part of the program of work of the P&E Committee, Lauwers, like many other grassroots members, dedicates time to it on a regular basis. She encourages farmers of all types to share what they’re doing on their farms (and why) with legislators and members of the non-farming public.
“I have seen firsthand that when farmers come together to advocate, whether it be about policy, regulations or consumer concerns, it has made a difference,” she says. Further, “If we don’t tell our story, others will tell it for us and it may not be the truth.”
Before her appointment to AFBF’s P&E Committee, Lauwers served on Michigan Farm Bureau’s P&E Committee for six years, including two years as vice chair. She and her husband, Mike, operate his family’s fourth-generation farm.
The American Farm Bureau is featuring Lauwers and several other women leaders in agriculture as part of its Women In Ag series during March (Women’s History Month).
Cyndie Shearing is director of communications at the American Farm Bureau Federation.