By Cyndie Shearing
For Alisha Schwertner, a Texas farmer and chair of the American Farm Bureau Federation’s Young Farmers & Ranchers Committee, advocating about agriculture is a no-brainer. “The next generation of our industry depends on us to advocate for them, and who better to tell the story than those of us who are living it every day?” she explains.
Schwertner has always had an interest in policy and law, especially those issues that affect her family and livelihood directly. This interest was a driving force behind her involvement in Farm Bureau first as a member and later in leadership.
“I strongly believe that if you have a problem, you should be a part of the solution,” she says. Although in Schwertner’s experience many farmers and ranchers have a natural instinct to keep to themselves, “in these times that is not enough” to combat the wealth of misinformation about agriculture often shared on social media.
She has found success advocating about agriculture “at the most unexpected times.” This has included sharing stories about her family’s farm while on an airplane and during an Uber ride in Washington, D.C. “The most genuine conversations occur in the most ordinary circumstances and those are my favorite,” she says.
Schwertner credits two women who have inspired her on her agricultural advocacy journey.
“My mom, Trudie Hedrick, has always been the perfect example of selflessness and strength,” she says. “Over the years I have seen her make sacrifices and share her passions in an effort to impact change. In doing this, she also maintained her priorities of being a mom, a wife, a successful business owner and an advocate.”
Jessica Richmond, a member of the Texas Farm Bureau board of directors, nominated Schwertner and her husband Eric to serve on the state’s Young Farmers & Ranchers Committee four years ago. “At the time, I couldn’t imagine adding one more thing to my plate but knew the opportunity was something I didn’t want to turn down,” Schwertner said. “Both of these women have proved that we can do hard things if we keep our priorities in check, surround ourselves with the right people and focus on our purpose.”
The Schwertners are third-generation farmers and parents to three young boys. They grow cotton, grain sorghum, corn and wheat. They also have a cow-calf beef herd and recently started marketing their beef locally through direct-to-consumer sales. In addition, Alisha is a certified crop adviser, which has equipped her to be a part of agronomic management for the farm. She’s also employed as a product manager for software solutions at John Deere.