Bo Stone to Be Part of Faces of Farming & Ranching Program
Robeson County Farm Bureau member Bo Stone is going to be even busier this year. Stone was selected as one of the winners of the Faces of Farming & Ranching program, a nationwide search launched last summer by the U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance (USFRA) to help put real faces on the American agriculture industry.
Stone and three other farmers will travel the country speaking with a wide range of consumer groups, associations, government officials and others, sharing stories and experiences on a national stage to help answer consumers’ questions about how food is grown and raised to feed the nation and beyond.
“It really is a very nice honor to be selected to represent our industry like this,” Stone says. “It’s one I’m looking forward to. It’s definitely going to be a challenge but a unique opportunity to really speak to consumer groups and others that I wouldn’t have had the opportunity before.
“I think we all like to stay in our comfort zone, and we as farmers have been guilty of preaching to the choir so to speak in how we like to speak to other farm groups,” he adds. “But this will give me the opportunity to have a target audience I wouldn’t have had in any other way. This is a wonderful opportunity for me to get to have those conversations and build those relationships. It’s really a great chance.”
Stone jointly owns P&S Farms with his parents and wife, Missy. They grow 2,300 acres of row crops, raise approximately 10,000 pigs annually and have 60 cows. They also grow 2.5 acres of strawberries and 4 acres of sweet corn to sell at their own roadside market. Stone represents the sixth generation to farm their land.
Joining Stone as farm spokespersons are Chris Chinn from Missouri, Will Gilmer from Alabama and Katie Pratt from Illinois.
“The four winners selected are passionate about farming and ranching, and eager to share their stories about the innovative ways they continue to improve food production each day,” says Bob Stallman, chairman of USFRA and president of the American Farm Bureau Federation. “There are a lot of misconceptions and questions among consumers about how food gets from the farm to our tables. These four individuals are equipped with the passion and experience necessary to address these complicated issues and give honest answers.”
After being selected, Stone was asked how he would respond to agriculture critics who might be skeptical about topics, such as antibiotics, water quality and other issues closely associated to how farms operate nowadays.
“I look forward to those questions because many of the questions consumers have I’ve probably had myself,” Stone says. “We can work through how I came to the answers and conclusions I have. Are we as farmers always right? No we’re not. That’s what we need to have these open lines of communication so we can talk through the issues so we can find common ground.
“It does us no good to talk to other farmers because we know what we do. I think to me personally, if I were to take something away from this upcoming year, it would be to talk with a group of people who are skeptical about what farmers do each and every day,” Stone says.
“I would love for them to understand some of the ways of continuous improvement and sustainability we are trying to achieve on our farm and to allow them to have the same comfort level with what we do that I have.”
U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance (USFRA) consists of more than 80 farmer and rancher-led organizations and agricultural partners representing virtually all aspects of agriculture, working to engage in dialogues with consumers who have questions about how today’s food is grown and raised. USFRA is committed to continuous improvement and supporting U.S. farmers’ and ranchers’ efforts to increase confidence and trust in today’s agriculture.