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Published October 28, 2013, 10:15 AM

Spreading ag’s message

An Ag blogger speaks at the Agri-Women’s conference.

By: Jonathan Knutson, Agweek

Sierra Blachford and others like her may be crucial to agriculture’s future. Young and skilled in social media, they’re already an increasingly important part of ag’s presence.

“Agriculture needs to tell its story, and those of us involved in farming need to help do it,” says Blachford, a 22-year-old Lake Preston, S.D., agricultural producer and blogger.

Blachford spoke at the 31st annual Harvest of Knowledge Agri-Women’s Conference Oct. 25 in Grand Forks, N.D. About 125 women attended the event, sponsored by North Dakota Agri-Women and Minnesota Agri-Women. Among the presenters were officials with Minnesota’s Agricultural Utilization Research Institute and North Dakota’s Pride of Dakota program.

Blachford talked with Agweek before her presentation in Grand Forks.

She grew up in Missouri, where her parents raised cattle. As an adult, she worked in marketing for an ag company before marrying her husband, John, who farms and ranches near Lake Preston, this summer.

Lake Preston, in eastern South Dakota., wasn’t hit by the early October blizzard that hammered the western Dakotas and Nebraska.

The Blachfords raise corn, soybeans, alfalfa, wheat and Angus and Red Angus cattle.

Sierra Blachford blogs, at sierra shea.com, about their farming operation.

In late September, for instance, she posted an entry on weaning calves on the family farm. The post stressed why ranchers wean their calves and what producers do to reduce calves’ stress during weaning — things that people outside agriculture probably don’t understand.

A growing number of Americans have no direct connection with agriculture, so educating them about it is critical, Blachford says.

Blachford says she and others her age are comfortable with social media and enjoy using it to spread agriculture’s message.

“It’s natural for us,” she says.

Blachford’s writings include “So God Made a Farmer’s Wife,” a companion to the well-known Paul Harvey speech, “So God Made a Farmer.”

Looking for members

American Agri-Women, the members of which include the U.S. Rice Federation and the Women’s Mining Coalition, works on legislative and regulatory issues at the local, state and national levels. It also works to educate students and consumers.

The organization has about 50,000 members nationwide.

American Agri-Women officials say the organization is open to all women, including ones without direct ties to farming, who want to learn more about agriculture.

More young adults, including young women, are entering agriculture, which helps American Agri-Women recruit more young members, says Donna Ulseth of Crookston, Minn., chairwoman of the Grand Forks conference.

More information: www.americana griwomen.org.

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