Law office associate shares agriculture’s voice
Cody – On May 20, during the American National CattleWomen, Inc. (ANCW) Region V Conference, CattleWomen members from Wyoming, Montana, Colorado, Idaho, Oregon and Washington met to hear speakers present on a variety of topics and conduct their ANCW business meeting.
A major topic of discussion included sharing agriculture’s voice. Sarah Falen of Budd-Falen Law Offices, LLC shared how to be a leader in agriculture as a woman and the importance of being an advocate for agriculture through her American Made Initiative.
Sharing ag through social media
Falen, a sixth-generation rancher, followed in her family’s footsteps – working in law after graduating with her Juris Doctorate from the University of Wyoming in 2021. Falen’s parents are both advocates for agriculture in the ag community.
Falen is working on finding her way in law post-graduation, but she has been able to advocate for ag through the social media platform TikTok.
“At the end of the day, you have to play to your strengths,” she shared.
After sharing a TikTok video of two bottle calves getting loose in the town of Laramie, the video received 40,000 views within a 24-hour timespan and she got 10,000 followers.
“I used TikTok mostly to share these two calves, because the internet thought it was funny,” she said. “I didn’t do anything productive with my TikTok until February 2022.”
Topics on social media
So far, Falen has highlighted several issues impacting the industry and provides legal explanations. One of the first issues she discussed was the Gila National Forest killings of 65 unauthorized cattle by the U.S. Forest Service.
“I don’t know what made me do this, but I decided to get out my TikTok, in which I had 30,000 followers at the time, and I ranted to my phone about this issue,” she shared.
The video she shared received nearly half a million views in less than 24 hours, she noted.
“What I learned from this was, I always thought people didn’t care about agriculture issues,” she said. “That’s not the case. People just don’t know they exist, and they have no idea the federal government is doing these kinds of things.”
“After learning people do care about agriculture issues, I realized I needed to keep using this platform,” she added. “What I learned is we need to be able to reach the people in urban areas, because this is where the biggest population is.”
Other topics she has covered include: agriculture education; impacted producers and ranchers; water rights; the TV series “Yellowstone” explanations; endangered species issues, including the Oregon spotted frog; and water wars.
“We need to be getting out there and sharing our story, and it turns out TikTok has been a really good way to do that,” she mentioned.
American Made Initiative
In addition to being TikTok famous and working in her parent’s law firm, Falen created a Facebook page called the American Made Initiative. She uses this space to advocate for American industries such as agriculture and energy.
She often highlights stories of farmers’ and ranchers’ way of life. A large part of her advocacy is highlighting how ag laws and policies negatively impact the industry.
“You have to change the narrative,” she said. “We have to go out and tell people – this is agriculture; this is what we do for the environment and this is what you get from us.”
Falen noted social media has its downfalls, but for the most part she has been able to use it as a tool to reach a broader audience of society to educate, promote and defend the agriculture community.
“Sometimes there are these issues where there really isn’t a good legal remedy,” she said. “But if you change public perception and tell people what’s happening, maybe they will be able to start talking to politicians and lawmakers and help make a difference.”
“In order to be able to change the law, we are going to have to have a change in the narrative – you have to show people what is actually happening and these are the people it’s hurting,” she added.
Falen encouraged others, in order to be a successful leader, one must play to their strengths, be bold and don’t stop.
“I disagree with the ideology that because something is an uphill battle you should just roll over at the bottom,” she shared. “It’s never too late to speak out and tell our stories.”
“What we do is important. Agriculture is important, and we’re not going to stop fighting for it just because it’s going to be hard,” Falen concluded.
Brittany Gunn is the editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to firstname.lastname@example.org.