'We're trying to curb the misinformation that's out there'
By MATTHEW WEAVER
Spokane County, Wash., farmers want to counteract false messages that portray their industry in a negative light.
Members of the county Farm Bureau are developing informational videos that portray farmers as environmental stewards. Farm bureau board member William Demers is heading the project.
"We're not just saying it, we're showing how they're doing it," he said. "And then we're going to show how regulations coincide with the decline of small farmers."
Future videos will cover farmers' efforts to reduce chemical use and maintain soil and food safety, he said.
Demers leads a 4-H club of 12 photography students and owns a part-time photography studio. As part of the club, some students will produce the video.
The students will distribute the videos to public officials and survey them for their opinion on agricultural issues after viewing the video. Demers said the video will likely be available online and on DVD.
The Farm Bureau also intends to get on the agenda of public meetings, Demers said.
Demers and Alysa Norton, the Farm Bureau's marketing and communication representative, are writing the scripts and shooting the video.
The Farm Bureau is working with the Spokane County Cattlemen's Association to provide funding for the video.
"We're trying to curb the misinformation that's out there by a lot of the organizations with excess funds," said Russ Emtman, president for the county association. "A lot of the word that is being pushed around is far from the truth."
Emtman believes the video will offer public officials a truthful message from the farmer's perspective.
For Demers, the video represents a new way of doing business. Environmentalists often release emotional, nonfactual information, he said.
"We've just kind of stood back, been silent and been really good at farming but really bad at PR; that needs to change," he said.