“Can we feed a growing world population, fuel our economy, and still offer wholesome food choices to Americans?” asks 2011 Miss America Teresa Scanlan in an article entitled, Why All Americans Have a Stake In the Success of Our Farmers and Ranchers. “Sure, just as long as we avoid weakening the very infrastructure that makes it all possible. As I write this, America has just 210,000 full-time farms. That’s it. And being from an agricultural community, I know these aren’t large corporations with giant bank accounts. These are small businesses with huge overhead expenses and a history of modest profits. Farming and ranching is expensive, and the risks associated with it are unlike any other profession, which is why we’re faced with fewer and fewer U.S. producers to support more and more people.”
Wait, this is a pageant girl talking? Scanlan’s testimony on behalf of farmers and ranchers was certainly a surprise, but being from a small, rural community in Nebraska, agriculture has always been in her backyard. In an exclusive interview with the Midwest beauty, I had the opportunity to ask her what inspired the article and why this message about food security is so important to her.
“We have started working with the Hand That Feeds U.S. We had our first meetings with them to start an initiative about how to partner with agriculture groups to help spread the positive message about food production. The first thing I wanted to do was write an opinion piece, and I was excited to do that with FOX and even get an interview on television with FOX and Friends. I’m really excited to work with the Hand That Feeds U.S. on different projects throughout the year," says Scanlan.
The Hand That Feeds U.S. is an educational resource for urban media on the importance of U.S. agriculture to the security and future of our country. The project provides information relevant to our nation's farming industry, while also seeking to combat the current misinformation campaigns about food prices and renewable fuels. These initiatives are exactly what Scanlan hopes to work on in her year as Miss America.
“Food security is life! I grew up in Nebraska in a farming community of 1,000 people. We understand how important it is here, and so many times other people just don’t understand. I hope to connect rural America to urban areas. This year, I’m able to educate and advocate for the importance of farming with groups across the country," she explains.
Scanlan granted that the media has been hostile toward American agriculture as of late, something she hopes to turn around with her efforts.
“The whole idea is to share the food production story. Many people don’t realize that agriculture is such a boost to the economy and is so important to our independence from other countries. Export markets immensely help our economy; that’s been proven over and over again. Agriculture is the heart and soul of the country and this economy, and there is no reason to put that in danger with stronger regulations and rules on our farmers. Understanding the impact agriculture has on our economy is something all American families can relate to," Scanlan adds.
Scanlan’s message is strong, and today’s food producers are lucky to have such a charismatic, diplomatic and passionate advocate to join us in our own efforts.
“Everyone has a stake in the success of our farmers and ranchers. Everyone has a responsibility to advocate for farming and ranching, and educate themselves and others about it. It’s so exciting to find out that my FOX article has sparked so much interest. I hope to continue to weave these positive messages in future media interviews. I work with all kinds of groups that I can speak to, and my initiatives on eating disorders and childhood obesity are great outlets to teach kids where their food comes from and that it’s not from just the grocery store. Miss America has never taken on a project like this. It’s a part of who I am. It’s close to my heart. I hope to use this year to the best of my advantage to share the food production story with others,” she says.
It’s great America’s sweetheart is willing to stand up for farmers and ranchers. But, although celebrity endorsements are great, they can’t compare to the great advocates we can all be if we put our minds to it. Let's follow Scanlan’s example and put in 110% to share our story and introduce ourselves to our customers — a hungry nation and world!