At the Crossroads of Influence

By Mike Levin

Producers are at a crossroads. On one hand, the race for innovation is at an all-time high as industries make rapid technology advancements. On the other hand, our world – including many decision makers – is growing further removed from agriculture, causing an ongoing concern about how feed, food and fuel are produced.

We all see this truth firsthand: the number of producers is declining. According to the U.S. Census, there were 6.8 million producers in 1935 and 2.1 million in 2012. At the same time, only two percent of any given population is likely to advocate for an issue. Picture it this way:


That means the producer’s voice in 2012 was roughly 0.013 percent of the population. That’s a very small representation of a very important group on which the world relies. So, this crossroads requires us to move, act, do. But can you affect change? How do you affect change?

Influence by Adoption

Producers today have more knowledge, tools and resources than any other farming generation. Continuous innovation isn’t just a good thing; it’s essential. One way to ensure you keep your social license is to stay ahead of your industry by adopting best management practices and production technology to better your farm and the industry. They say consumers vote with their wallets. You can do the same: investing your resources, time and priorities into continuous farm business improvement is one way to influence change. 

Influence by Education

At a recent ISA checkoff program event, Illinois soybean producers engaged with legislators at the state capitol, talking about industry issues like biodiesel over a cup of coffee. Legislators remarked on how much they appreciated the opportunity to have an informative conversation about the issues versus a pointed, reactive discussion about specific bills. Influence can come in many forms, but one of the best ways is to be a well-informed, educated, readily available resource to your decision makers before a policy or bill hits the floor.

Influence by Action

While we should do all we can to educate, it’s inevitable legislation or regulations that threaten social license will arise. When that happens, make sure you use our Voice for Soy legislative action network to make your voice heard. Voice for Soy is an easy, one-stop shop to track key issues, share information and mobilize quickly as necessary. Contacting your representative or other decision makers is as easy as a click of a button. Visit to learn more.

The 0.017 percentage is daunting. But it is reality. You can be intimidated and stay at the crossroads, or you can see influence as a responsibility and opportunity to move, act, do.