By STEVE BROWN
SEATTLE -- As president of the American Farm Bureau Federation, Bob Stallman has issued a call to arms:
"It is up to us to share the strength of our character and the tradition of our values with our fellow citizens," Stallman said at the annual meeting Jan. 10 in Seattle.
"But a line must be drawn between our polite and respectful engagement with consumers and the way we must aggressively respond to extremists who want to drag agriculture back to the days of 40 acres and a mule."
In his annual address to Farm Bureau members, Stallman described "the nonstop criticism of contemporary agriculture." He described how movies, magazine articles and undercover videos have cast a pall over public opinion.
Such external forces have created the images of monoculture, factory farms, industrial food and big ag.
As "self-appointed and self-promoting food experts" seek to damage the reputation of traditional agricultural values, he said, it is all the more vital for American farmers and ranchers to adopt a new attitude.
He quoted Gen. George Patton, saying that in times of war, "Make your plans to fit the circumstances."
"To those who expect to just roll over America's farm and ranch families," Stallman said, "my only message is this: The circumstances have changed."