Farmer gives ag promo tips at Midwest Dairy Expo

ST. CLOUD, Minn. - Sarah Wilson calls herself a "farmer on a mission."

ST. CLOUD, Minn. - Sarah Wilson calls herself a "farmer on a mission."

Wilson, who farms with her husband, Jeremy, in partnership with Jeremy's father near Jamestown, N.D., is an advocate for agriculture. She strives to clear up the general public's misconceptions while promoting ag production.

She brought her message and suggestions for ag promotions to the Midwest Dairy Expo in St. Cloud last week.

Anti-animal ag groups are well-funded, she said. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals has more than $34 million in revenue annually, she said. The Humane Society of the United States, not to be confused with local animal shelters, has $131 million annual revenue. Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine receives more than $1.3 million from PETA.

The activists use fear in their messages to children and teachers, Wilson said. They talk about factory farms, use divide- and-conquer and have an organized, grassroots effort.


Their messages denouncing animal agriculture hit all producers, she said.

"This isn't about conventional versus organic or large versus small," she said. "This is not a time for apathy."

She called for farmers and ag organizations to stand up for agriculture.

"Stand up and let your voice be heard," she said. "Be an activist for agriculture. Tell your story."

She's not asking farmers to speak for all of agriculture, but to focus on their type of farming and specifically about their farm.

"People want to know about your operation," she said.

Wilson, her husband and father-in-law raise corn, wheat, soybeans and pinto beans on their 3,000-acre farm. They also graze heifers for a neighboring dairy producer.

When talking to others about agriculture, she describes the family's farm, she said. If someone asks a question about another type of agriculture she's not familiar with, she contacts another farmer for the answer.


She became an ag advocate when she was crowned a Maryland dairy princess at age 16. She earned a Bachelors of Science degree in animal science from the University of Maryland and a Master's degree from North Dakota State University.

Wilson worked for the Extension Service in Hutchinson before she met her husband, Jeremy, at an American Farm Bureau Young Farmers and Ranchers Discussion Meet. They were married in 2006 and live on the family's Jamestown farm with their two young daughters.

She delivers the ag message through a website and blog she developed.

Wilson is employed by the North Dakota Farm Bureau.

Jeremy has introduced himself to others, shaking their hands and saying, "I make food and food ingredients for your family."

Connections with the general public can happen in person or through social media like Facebook and Twitter, she said.

She has researched her farm's impact on the Internet. She discovered one bushel of wheat can make 100 loaves. Using her farm's production information, she can now tell consumers her farm produced enough wheat for 5.4 million loaves of bread in 2010.

Wilson has added an ag education message to her church's activities. Their Vacation Bible School toured a dairy farm. There were some logistic issues for the visit, however. Instead of the 30 students they expected, 90 youths wanted to visit the dairy. It was a great opportunity to talk about dairy production, she said.


When the youth planned a fundraiser to bring livestock to needy villages through Heifer International, Wilson displayed farm information facts throughout the church. Their fundraiser for their "10 Heifer Prayer" day included a sundae Sunday. Using donated rain gutters from a local company, they filled the gutters with ice cream and toppings for everyone to enjoy.

She encourages farmers to listen as well as speak up for agriculture. Share the experience. Don't educate or tell them. Relate what you do on your farm.

When communicating ag's message, avoid jargon and convert units of measure into something the public will understand.

Team up with other farms and businesses and vote. Pay attention to local, state and federal legislation. She encourages farmers to build relationships with legislators and make them aware of ag production practices.

There are many resources to use to garner ideas, she said. AgChat is one. Check out her farm's website at or her blog at .

What To Read Next
Get Local