Women share how Earth Day is every day for farmers

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CommonGround volunteers Katie Sawyer and Pam Selz-Pralle took the story of American farming, their story, to people across the country through a series of radio interviews April 17. Discussing why Earth Day, April 22, is every day for U.S. farmers, Sawyer and Selz-Pralle shared the story of American agriculture's tradition of sustainability and stewardship.

"Earth Day shines a public spotlight on agriculture's careful stewardship of our natural resources. Farmers and ranchers across the country have the public's ear to discuss issues important to us all concerning sustainability and land use," says Selz-Pralle, who farms in Wisconsin. "Today's consumer is eager to become more connected with their food and how it's grown or raised. That's where we CommonGround volunteers can provide a 'farm voice' to ease the concerns of wondering consumers. No one should have to fear their food or where it comes from. Our passion and personal experiences give confidence to consumers."

Over the course of the morning, Sawyer and Selz-Pralle took part in 12 interviews, both live and taped, which will reach radio listeners in markets from Philadelphia to Seattle.

Sawyer, who farms in Kansas, noted that "many people are genuinely surprised to learn that about 96 percent of American farms are family farms. Personally, I grew up in an urban environment and, until I met my husband, I would have been surprised too. Like almost all farmers, we want to pass our grain farm and our cattle operation to the next generation. Our farm is our gift to our son and to his children down the line. We want to make sure that the soil, the air and the water provide as wonderful of a life for them as they do for us today."

"As I talk to consumers and dieticians at food shows and other events, they are continually surprised at agriculture's amazing story. They quickly ask questions and engage in honest, open dialogue with a real farmer," says Selz-Pralle. "We have made incredible strides in sustainability and we shouldn't keep that success story a secret! As CommonGround farm women, we tell agriculture's story, validating it with our personal innovation and farm stories. From participating in conservation programs to producing renewable energy, America's farmers have been living green, and we are getting greener every day."

Many of the stations involved in this tour aired the interviews live, but quite a few others taped the segments to run over the coming weeks. Interviews will air in: Denver, Colo.; Hartford/New Haven, Conn.; Ocala, Fla.; Boston, Mass.; Minneapolis, Minn.; Charlotte, N.C.; Buffalo, N.Y.; Cleveland, Ohio; Philadelphia, Pa.; Roanoke, Va.; Seattle, Wash.; and across the state of Kansas on regional radio.

Audio clips from these interviews will be posted to the National Corn Growers Association's website as available.

CommonGround is a grass-roots movement to foster conversation among women - on farms and in cities - about where our food comes from. The National Corn Growers Association, the United Soybean Board and their state affiliates developed CommonGround to give farm women the opportunity to engage with consumers through the use of a wide range of activities.

Have another question about your food? Find CommonGround online by clicking here.

Katie Sawyer and her husband, Derek, own and operate a 2,800-acre dry land and irrigated farm outside of McPherson, Kan., where they raise corn, grain sorghum, soybeans and wheat. Additionally, they manage a 325-head cow herd and calve and background about 2,000 cattle annually.

Pam Selz-Pralle is a proud third-generation family farmer. Together, her family milks 450 registered Holstein cows, raise their young, and grow corn and hay on two Century farms in Wisconsin. 


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