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Gettysburg Dairy Woman Finalist for National Faces of Farming Contest
September 13, 2016

Joy Widerman has a lot of cows — 900 to be exact. She works with her family on their Gettysburg dairy farm to milk them three times a day.

“I start my day at 3:30 a.m. by going to the barn, checking on the cows, talking to our employees to make sure everything is going OK,” Widerman said. “After putting my children on the school bus, I spend the rest of my day working with the cows, tending to their needs, making sure they are healthy. (I) oversee the milking to make sure we are doing the best possible job we can for our cows and the consumers.”

Widerman has been selected as one of eight finalists for the U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance’s next class of Faces of Farming & Ranching competition.

Her parents have been farming in Gettysburg for 46 years, and Widerman wishes to share that tradition with the public by spreading the truth behind behind the origins of food.

“It means a lot to me to educate the public,” Widerman said. “I think that people are so distant from knowing where their food comes from that they don’t realize the farmer is sitting among them. When my grandparents were kids, everyone was a farmer.”

This will be the third class of farmers and ranchers for the national competition, which focuses on putting a face to the people behind agricultural operations across the country.

“Joy is extremely involved at the local and state level in sharing her story with consumers,” said USFRA spokesman Paul Spooner. “She really captures the essence of sustainability and innovation of today’s agriculture. Her farm is also a model for animal care and comfort, which is a priority for American farmers and ranchers. She has a passion to educate the public about farming and ranching and does a great job of sharing that story on social media.”

“We’re looking for farmers and ranchers who are proud of what they do and strive to be sustainable and technology-driven, eager to share their stories of continuous improvement and are actively involved in sharing those stories in public and on social media to help put a real face on agriculture, ” Spooner said.

Widerman hopes to update the public’s perception of modern farmers.

“I think the general public thinks farmers are wearing overalls, missing teeth, hillbilly hicks,” she said. “We are people out right among them. They’re just like everybody else. I don’t think we’re like we were back in the ’50s.”

Through the competition, finalists will have the opportunity to share their personal stories through videos that will be posted to the alliance’s Facebook page. The public can learn about each finalist and vote once per day from Oct. 10 through 16. The chosen winners will be awarded $15,000 toward their efforts away from the farm, serving through public appearances, national media interviews, blog posts, web chats and social media opportunities.

Through her story, Widerman wants to dispel myths about food production and express the passion that farmers put into their work.

“So they can see how much I really love what I’m doing, and they can see the animals really are my No. 1 priority,” she said. “My day can be very relaxing or very hectic. Every day is definitely an adventure. Couldn’t imagine my life any other way”

USFRA, factoring in feedback from its Communications Committee, input from the current Faces of Farming and Ranching winners, and public votes submitted online, will choose four or five winners to be announced at the National Association of Farm Broadcasting press conference on Nov. 9.  More information can be found online at fooddialogues.com.

By: Lindsay C. VanAsdalan
Source: The Evening Sun



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