Miss America Teresa Scanlan: A strong voice for agriculture
In an age where Hollywood starlets are taking a stand on political ideas, suddenly a movie star’s opinion on where food comes from carries more weight than facts from experts. Celebrity endorsements for or against certain products can be monumental in making or breaking a trend, and that includes the image of farmers and ranchers, too. In a sometimes hostile media environment, agriculture isn’t always put in the best light, but food producers may have found a gem of a spokesperson with 2011 Miss America Teresa Scanlan.
“Can we feed a growing world population, fuel our economy, and still offer wholesome food choices to Americans?” asked Scanlan in an article for FOX News. “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.”
A pageant girl’s strong testimony on behalf of farmers and ranchers may be shocking to some, but being from a small, rural community in Nebraska, agriculture has always been in this beauty’s backyard.
“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,” said Scanlan. “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.”
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!” exclaimed Scanlan. “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.”
Scanlan said that although most people can’t relate to the farming way of life, there is one thing they can connect with – how agriculture impacts the economy.
“The whole idea is to share the food production story,” explained Scanlan. “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. 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’s message is strong, and through the Miss America crown it will help her get the word out.
“Everyone has a stake in the success of our farmers and ranchers,” concluded Scanlan. “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.”
Agriculture can place it’s confidence in this young, charismatic woman from the heart of Nebraska. She is getting the word out about the hard-working, down-to-earth people working to feed the world.
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