Oregon nursery owner Angi Bailey was in New York City when the scope of agriculture’s communication task became clear. “There’s a lot of food in Times Square,” she said with a laugh, “but obviously there are no farms in Times Square.”
And the people bustling about — consumers — may never have set foot on a farm or talked to a farmer, she said.
An American Farm Bureau program, Partnership in Advocacy Leadership, or PAL, is attempting to bridge that gap, and picked Bailey as one of its next group of leaders. Over the course of two years, she and nine other young farmers and ranchers chosen for the program will learn how to better tell ag’s story to consumers, legislators, regulators and the media.
The group’s first training module was in New York City in June. Among other experiences, the PAL team members went to an urban grocery store to interact with shoppers, answer their questions and talk to them about their food choices.
The trip — her first to New York — confirmed the importance of producers being able to see things not only from the perspective of their farms but also “from the perspective of the person standing in the grocery store aisle,” Bailey said.
The group’s next joint venture is to Washington, D.C., in September.
Bailey said the training will refine her advocacy and leadership skills.
“It’s an opportunity to grow and develop and become stronger in the way I communicate,” she said.
Other members of the PAL group are John Boelts, Arizona; April Clayton, Washington; Becca Ferry, Utah; Amy France, Kansas, Amelia Kent, Louisiana; Matt Niswander, Tennessee; James O’Brien, Texas; Tyson Roberts, Utah; and Jamie Tiralla, Maryland. Bailey is the only one who doesn’t produce a food crop; she grows ornamental trees.
Bailey and her husband, Larry, own and operate Verna Jean Nursery, near Gresham, Ore., east of Portland. Bailey’s mother founded the business; Bailey took it over after her mother’s unexpected death in 2005.
Oregonians for Food and Shelter, the ag and natural resources lobbying group, hired Bailey as its grassroots coordinator in 2016. She also served as the Oregon Farm Bureau’s second vice president in 2015 and won the Outstanding Farm Bureau Woman Award during the state organization’s 2014 annual meeting. She’s a graduate of the American Farm Bureau’s communications “boot camp.”
Previous Capital Press coverage of Angi Bailey: http://bit.ly/2vcj9GM