A dairy farmer from Alabama has been selected as a national spokesperson for the U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance (USFRA).
Will Gilmer of Lamar County, Ala., was one of four farmers selected in USFRA’s Faces of Farming and Ranching program, a nationwide search launched by USFRA in June 2012 as a way to identify farmers and ranchers who are proud of what they do and are eager to share their stories.
Gilmer and three other program winners were selected from a pool of more than 100 farmer and rancher applicants from across the country.
As one of the Faces of Farming & Ranching, Gilmer will share his stories and experiences on a national stage to help answer consumers’ questions about how food is grown and raised to feed our nation.
“By adapting advanced management practices, we are able to raise healthy, comfortable cows that produce quality milk and dairy beef,” said Gilmer.
“I want to help consumers see that farmers and ranchers have a genuine passion for what they do and take pride in the quality of the food they produce, hoping that it makes a positive contribution to society.”
Gilmer and his father own and operate a dairy farm, which has been in continuous operation since Will’s grandfather established it in the early 1950s. They currently milk 200 Holstein cows and raise their own replacement heifers, while managing 600 acres of land used for pasture and forage production.
Those forages include hay, summer silage crops, and small grains/ryegrass for both silage and strip grazing.
Active in social media
Gilmer serves as chairman of the Alabama Dairy Committee, a division of the Alabama Farmers Federation. He is a social media sensation in the farming community with YouTube videos like “Have a Dairy, Merry Christmas” and “MooTube Minutes.”
As a Faces of Farming & Ranching winner, Gilmer will receive a $10,000 stipend to help offset the time he will spend away from the farm in the coming year serving as a USFRA spokesperson.
He will also have the opportunity to direct a $5,000 donation to an agriculture-related charity.
“So much of today’s conversation on food in media and popular culture is missing the perspective of the people who actually grow and raise our food,” said Bob Stallman, chairman of USFRA and president of the American Farm Bureau Federation.
“This lack of representation has led to a lot of misconceptions and questions about how food gets from the farm or ranch to our tables. Farmers like Will were named winners of this program because they are eager to share their stories about the innovative ways they continue to improve food production each day.
“They have the first-hand experience to address complicated issues surrounding food production by giving honest answers about what happens on today’s farms and ranches.”
From Nov. 15-Dec. 15, 2012, thousands visited FoodDialogues.com  to learn more about the candidates and to vote for whom they believed best represented American agriculture.
In addition to the public vote, a panel of judges from throughout the food and agriculture community interviewed and evaluated the finalists to help determine the winners of Faces of Farming & Ranching.
The other three winners are Bo Stone, a row-crop farmer from Rowland, N.C.; Chris Chinn, a hog and cattle farmer from Clarence, Mo.; and Katie Pratt, a row-crop farmer from Dixon, Ill.
For more information on the Faces of Farming & Ranching program, including video from today's press conference, visit FoodDialogues.com .
U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance (USFRA) consists of more than 80 farmer- and rancher-led organizations and agricultural partners representing virtually all aspects of agriculture working to engage in dialogues with consumers who have questions about how today’s food is grown and raised. USFRA is committed to continuous improvement and supporting U.S. farmers and ranchers efforts to increase confidence and trust in today’s agriculture.