Frances Coles relishes the opportunities she and her family have had to be ambassadors for farming.

Farming is a profession to be proud of and we should be singing it from the rooftops.

We feed the world. We are one of, if not the, most efficient producers of milk in the world and guardians of our land for future generations.

When a global pandemic brought the local economy to a grinding halt, we kept on keeping on.

While other sectors face ongoing uncertainty and massive financial challenges, we are keeping our teams working and their families housed and fed.

They say you should focus on the controllable, and while it may feel like we are being tossed on the political currents like a rudderless boat in a storm, we are able to manage how our industry is perceived by the people we interact with on a daily basis.

How are you telling your story daily?

I’ve been so encouraged in the past few weeks by many examples of people starting the conversation small but gaining big momentum and precious large-scale coverage over time. Over the last couple of Sundays I’ve enjoyed seeing friends Wayne and Tyler Langford, and Michael and Susie Woodward on Country Calendar, sharing what makes their operations unique and special to them and generally being excellent ambassadors for the industry.

One of my daughter’s friends has had a niggling feeling for a while that farmers have been getting the short end of the stick in terms of blame for water quality issues, so set about researching a local waterway for her science fair project.

She asked us about all the mitigation measures we put in place onfarm, where our water quality in the streams running through the farm is proven to be excellent. Her project ‘Battle of the Lands – Rural vs Urban’ went on to win the Senior Ecan Award at the regional Sanford Science and Technology Fair.

Last week I had the opportunity to attend a new ‘Women in Business Network’ lunch hosted by our local Chamber of Commerce. The idea behind the formation of the group was to bring together business women who might not usually get the opportunity to leave the office or mix with each other, and share experiences, ideas and resources to help provide personal and professional development opportunities.

I was the last at our table to finish eating my lunch because the others in our group had so much to ask me about farming and operating a large-scale business requiring such a varied skill set.

But the ‘small’ conversation I’ve been proudest to witness of late has been the one relayed to me by my youngest daughter.

She was deeply offended when her primary school teacher implied that dairy farmers are mostly to blame for global warming during a discussion on climate change, and didn’t hesitate to challenge her to back up her opinion with facts.

It was another disappointing example of someone who doesn’t understand the difference between short life cycle gases like methane and long-term gases like carbon dioxide, or the bigger picture of which sectors are pulling their weight in terms of meeting climate change targets.

I’m looking forward to following up with a ‘small’ conversation of my own with her in the near future about the wisdom of sticking to the curriculum in class time and inviting her to learn more from someone who actually has a vested interest in protecting the environment for the good of my land, people and community.

There are so many ways to share the positive – conversations with family and friends, photos and videos of what you’re doing onfarm shared through your social media, the opportunity to host field days, making it known how your farming business supports your local community with time, resources or money…

Remember to be proud to be a farmer – how will you sing from your rooftop today?