Five Nebraska farm women traveled to Charleston, S.C. this last weekend to attend the national CommonGround Shared Voices Conference. The goal of the conference was to bring volunteers from participating states to learn how to reach more consumers with the truth about farming and food.
These five volunteers from Nebraska joined the 27 other participants from the 15 states involved with CommonGround at the conference. Nebraska volunteers include Shana Beattie, Sumner; Diane Becker, Madison; Leslie Boswell, Shickley; Joan Ruskamp, Dodge; and Linda Schwarz, Bertrand.
A hightlight for the CommonGround volunteers was hearing from leadership who started CommonGround, United Soybean Board (USB) and National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) – who are both women! Pam Johnson, NGCA Board of Director will become chairman of the National Corn Board, and Vanessa Kummer will chair the USB starting next year. These women were very inspiring and will be integral in the future leadership of agriculture.
Joan Ruskamp, who owns and operates a feedlot with her husband near Dodge, says she excited for the experience. “The conference is a great resource for us because it provides an opportunity to come together and talk about the issues that consumers are bringing to us about food and how it’s produced. By pooling our knowledge, we can do a much better job of answering consumers’ questions.”
Ruskamp said that she is often asked about animal care practices, including why they give their livestock implants. “It’s not about pumping up their muscles so they can look like Mr. Universe, she said. We do it so we can increase feed efficiency. Using implants, we are able to produce the same amount of meat using fewer resources. Once we explain that, it’s easier for them to understand why we do what we do.”
At the end of the day, although they may live and work on opposite sides of the spectrum, farm women and urban women share the same concerns about how they feed their families. CommonGround volunteers are passionate about agriculture and want consumers to understand how American farmers and ranchers work to provide a safe, abundant, affordable food supply and are dedicated to ensuring the best conservation and care for our land and animals.