| A new big ag group formed last year, the U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance (USFRA). Don't be fooled: their president is Bob Stallman, who is also the head of the American Farm Bureau Federation. (Check out Stallman's 2010 speech to the Farm Bureau... I don't think he's a fan of Michael Pollan.)
Several weeks ago, a well-known sustainable food & ag writer received an email from a PR firm working for USFRA. Over the next several weeks, many other sustainable food writers and bloggers received similar emails. Here's mine (Subject Line: Seeking Your Insights on Agriculture):
My name is Kyle and I work for a word-of-mouth marketing agency, Zocalo Group. [A subsidy of Ketchum]
We're partnering with the U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance, a newly formed alliance consisting of a wide range of prominent farmer and rancher-led organizations and agricultural partners, in an effort to help them connect with the public in an open discussion about food production and agriculture. As part of what we're doing, we're speaking with people who would likely have valuable points of view on this. And, we thought you would be able to contribute some useful insights, given your reputation in the food and ag industry
We are working toward holding events and activities in the coming months so we'd love to talk with you soon. Would it be possible to touch base for a few minutes by phone to get a sense of your thoughts on agriculture, give you a heads up about what the USFRA is doing and maybe discuss your interest in participating in the conversation?
For more information about the USFRA, please visit us online at: www.usfraonline.org
Thanks in advance for your consideration.
Hmm, would I like to help the Farm Bureau et al conduct opposition research so they can use it to work against everything I hold dear? Gee, that's an appealing thought but, no, not really. I'll pass.
Few others have replied and offered to talk. After a long silence from me, Kyle followed up with a second email. I asked for info about USFRA. Here's what he sent back:
As far as a little bit more about USFRA and where it's funding comes from, USFRA is a newly formed alliance consisting of a wide range of prominent farmer- and rancher-led organizations and agricultural partners. It's the first time agricultural groups at the national, regional and state levels have collaborated to lead the dialogue and answer Americans' questions about how we raise our food - while being stewards of the environment, responsibly caring for our animals and maintaining strong businesses and communities. Details about our membership and funding can be found here: http://usfraonline.org and here is their list of affiliates http://usfraonline.org/about/a...
"being stewards of the environment, responsibly caring for our animals and maintaining strong businesses and communities"? Boy that sounds nice. Too bad none of it's actually true.