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Agricultural News

'Confessions of a Farm Wife' Blogger Finds Her Voice as an Ag Advocate

Wed, 26 Feb 2014 20:44:27 CST

'Confessions of a Farm Wife' Blogger Finds Her Voice as an Ag Advocate
Emily Webel thought she wanted to get away from the farm and rural life, but, despite serious efforts on her part, she found herself being drawn back to her roots. And not only has she wholeheartedly embraced that which she once sought to escape, but she has now become a very popular blogger writing "Confessions of a Farm Wife."

She spoke on Tuesday at the Ag Issues Forum sposnored by Bayer Crop Science in San Antonio, Texas. She sat down for a one-on-one interview with Radio Oklahoma Network's Ron Hays. You can hear their conversation by clicking on the LISTEN BAR at the bottom of this story.

You might say that Webel is a convert to agriculture even though she was raised in the country.

"I grew up in a small town. My dad was an ag teacher at a local community college. I had a corn field in my back yard and I decided, like any teenager, 'I'm just going to go and go to college and be a city girl.'"

Webel got her degree in education and planned to teach, one day, in the big city of Chicago. In the meantime, however, she met and married her husband who was in corporate agriculture. By and by the couple decided they wanted to return to their roots and become full-time farmers.

In trying to become re-acclimated to rural life, Webel says she searched ag publications, but couldn't find anyone writing about the subject that resonated with her.

"And, being a former educator, having three kids at the time, and now four, I needed a "mom" voice out there so I decided, 'I could probably do one of those blog things.' I taught English. My mom was an English teacher so she could proofread for me and here we are today."

Strangely enough, Webel credits Oprah Winfrey with encouraging her to write about farm issues. When Oprah Winfrey made disparaging comments about beef that ultimately led to a lawsuit, Webel says she wanted to add her voice to the discussion to counter the detractors of the beef industry who seemed to get more press than they deserved.

"That was a long time ago, but it still rings very true to beef producers. They are very upset about it still."

Webel says she was fortunate to be picked up early in her blog career by the BlogHer Publishing Network which was a non-agricultural network.

"That was my voice. I wanted to talk to the non-agriculturalists like me. I'm still learning the lingo. I'm still learning the basics. And my dad being an ag teacher didn't ever 'dummy it down' for me enough. So, I tried to find that voice, Ag 101 or Ag for Dummies, basically."

Webel says the key to her successful communication has been the thing she has in common with so many urban women-she's a mom.

"I have four kids and I want them to be as healthy and as strong and we're doing things on the farm that seem scary because of the misconceptions, so I bring it down to we go out and look at the crop duster because it's exciting. And no one has a third eye. We're all OK. It's very basic."

Webel says she tries to keep her blogs brief and right to the point without getting bogged down in scientific terms. She says she is never at a loss for material to write about because she simply answers questions that pop up in the media on a daily basis.

"Kind of going on that 'city path' has really connected me to a good group of educated women, specifically, who have lots of questions about their kids and their not afraid to ask me. I have a lot of people who text me or email me or Facebook me, 'OK. I saw this on Dr. Oz, please tell me what the real story is.' Because they're not dumb. They know there's another side. They know that Joe's doing the best for our family and for the land and for the animals. So, I generate a lot from that that's being thrown at ag and then bring it back with a personal touch."

One of the big debates that is going on practically everywhere right now is the debate over GMO crops. Webel says it is an issue that she has simply chosen to take one bite at a time using concrete examples. The recent drought gave her ample ammunition right at home when a farmer on one side of the road planted drought-resistant corn and the farmer on the opposite side planted a non-drought-resistant variety. As the summer wore on and the neighbor's non-drought-resistant crop withered while the GMO crop did not, that was all the example she had to give her readers so that they understood.

Webel says she has had to learn to control her desire to be defensive whenever her friends in agriculture are attacked and instead be friendly and open and honest and provide information in a way that is open and sincere and here readers are responding.


Ron Hays talks with Emily Webel about being a farm mom and ag advocate.
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