This comment gave me an opportunity to have a direct conversation about agriculture with someone who didn’t know much about it. She learned that day that there are young farmers who are committed to producing safe, healthy and affordable food for consumers to enjoy. She left the pantry that day with a better understanding of where her food comes from.

Many times being an advocate for agriculture means talking to our neighbors and the people we come into contact with every day. We don’t need to prepare for these occasions other than being willing to share our story. Encourage people to eat what you grow. I have no shame in this. We must give consumers a positive connection to what is on their plate.

As the national Young Farmers and Ranchers chair this year, it is my goal for young farmers to more effectively communicate with policy decision makers. With the farm bill debate looming in Congress, as well as many regulatory actions being decided, how we as young farmers and ranchers communicate will determine our future. Young farmers will have to operate under the laws and regulations passed today for a great part of our farming lives.

We in agriculture are all in this together. It is in all of our best interests to speak as a unified voice for agriculture, whether the topic is regulations on how I grow high quality fruit or if my neighbor can grow biotech grain, or special interest groups trying to tell farmers in another state how to raise their animals.

Communicating with each other is just as important as talking with consumers and legislators. We are only as strong as our weakest link. But working and communicating together, we are unstoppable.

Ben LaCross, a second generation fruit producer from Cedar, Mich.,is chair of the American Farm Bureau Federation’s Young Farmers and Ranchers Committee.