BLI Alumni Lunch Keynote Address
Making connections now with those outside of agriculture will clear the path for progress in beef’s future.
OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (Nov. 3, 2015) — “We need to do a better job of making connections outside of ourselves,” said Ronnie Green, the Harlan vice chancellor of the Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources (IANR) at the University of Nebraska—Lincoln, during his keynote address at the Beef Leaders Institute (BLI) Alumni Lunch Wednesday, Nov. 3, at the Angus Means Business National Angus Convention & Trade Show.
"I wish I was at the start of my career, because I think that the opportunity for the beef business is huge," Ronnie Green told BLI alumni at a special luncheon.
Recently, shared Green, his son, who is a political writer in Washington, D.C., and grew up in agriculture, told him, “‘Dad, if we don’t do something, 20 years from now we will have lost this battle.’”
“None of his friends, none of his connections in Washington, D.C., … get it,” Green opined. “None of them get who you are. None of them get what you do. None of them understand the wholesomeness of what you do and the product that you have.”
Because 99% of the United States’ population is living in an increasingly urban, concrete environment, Green contended they are becoming more disconnected from nature itself.
“I would wager to you that part of the connection that we need to make moving forward is to get people to reconnect with nature,” he declared. “If you can’t understand nature and the system with which nature works, then you don’t understand that that’s where food comes from, the natural environment.”
He further attested that people are disconnected from the natural world enough that they no longer know how the natural world operates. Thus, the conversation has changed to “I believe vs. I know.”
“It used to be ‘I know this is the way this works, and this is why it works this way.’ Now it’s ‘I believe that GMOs (genetically modified organisms) are bad. I believe that large scale agriculture is bad,’” he illustrated.
Green made clear the consumer connection problem will not be solved in meetings of like-minded agricultural people. He encouraged his listeners to “sit outside of ourselves.”
“We’re going to have to be out there in the public talking about beef is good, beef is wholesome, beef is natural, beef is stewardship of the environment, beef is nature.”
Referencing Paul Harvey’s "So God Made A Farmer" speech made famous in a 2013 Ram Truck Super Bowl commercial, Green stated he was in attendance for Harvey’s original address at an FFA convention.
“People resonate with that. They resonate with you. They resonate with a face. They resonate with the humanness of food production. That’s what we’ve got to get back. I think we can do it, and we can meet the opportunity that’s going to be out there ahead,” said Green.
“I wish that I was not 55 years old. I wish I was at the start of my career, because I think that the opportunity for the beef business is huge," he added.
“The stuff you guys are going to see in your lifetime and in your children’s lifetime is going to dwarf what we see today,” Green concluded.