ARDEN HILLS, Minn. (May 2, 2022) – In the latest episode of Land O’Lakes, Inc.’s podcast—which has been renamed to Rooted in Tomorrow to reflect the enterprise’s brand line—Wisconsin dairy farmer Amber-Horn Leiterman and Minnesota sugar beet farmer Gretchen Rockstad share how they’re advocating on behalf of farmers and rural communities. Land O’Lakes is committed to helping Amber, Gretchen and all its members advocate because it’s essential to creating a sustainable food future for farmers and consumers alike.
Amber—whose family farm has been part of the cooperative system since the 1960s—shares how Land O’Lakes’ leadership training led her to chair the National Dairy Board, take part in a meeting with U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack and join other cooperatives.
“[Land O’Lakes] allowed me to kind of find my voice and be an advocate of not only my farm, but have a way or a means or the knowledge to advocate for myself and my family,” said Amber.
She continued, “Sometimes it takes a lot of guts to open your mouth and actually speak in front of a lot of people, especially when there's press in the room. And [Land O’Lakes has] given me the training and the tools to put that all together. I was one of eight people that spoke to Secretary Vilsack…There's lots of different grant programs that they're working on to really help us on the farm side… Land O’Lakes comes in and makes sure that I am aware of those.”
Gretchen, who also grew up on a farm, explains why advocacy matters to her.
“Coming from a rural community, any advocacy I can do with legislators is going to help my whole rural community because we [farms] are the economic engine there…We're all working together to keep these rural communities alive,” said Gretchen.
Gretchen continued, “So when we can, we piggyback with Land O’Lakes and amplify our voices. When I was in Washington, it wasn't just me and my husband—they [Land O’Lakes] had multiple teams going to many different people. It was so well organized. So many people heard that day from farmers. And they heard, you know, the true story—what our struggles are, how we need these markets open in order to stay viable and keep our agricultural products here on our home turf.”
Amber also says that teaching legislators about farming is critical to ensure a safe, affordable food supply.
“There's just such a gap between people and their food. And this goes for legislators as well. They're trying to please or make sure that their communities are taken care of. And it doesn't matter if that legislator is in a rural community or urban community. Their constituents still need access to have safe food supply.”
Hear more from Amber and Gretchen by listening to the full episode here.
Rooted in Tomorrow is an ag business and innovation podcast hosted by Land O’Lakes Chief Communications Officer Kim Olson. It brings together industry leaders for conversations about unlocking farming’s true potential and changing the world for the better. You can listen to it on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Amazon Music and more.