Myers' Favorite Story of 2021

Unconventional Activist Straddles Barbed-Wire Fence

Victoria G Myers
By  Victoria G. Myers , Progressive Farmer Senior Editor
Marty Irby says in Washington, D.C., many politicians have sold out both the family farmer and animal welfare with policies they've created. (DTN/Progressive Farmer photo by Joel Reichenberger)

Editor's Note: 2021 was a wild one, from a tumultuous change in the White House, to continued La Nina influences on the weather, to skyrocketing fertilizer and input costs. There were also a lot of good stories to tell. We asked the DTN/Progressive Farmer writing team to pick their favorite effort from the year. The stories range from fun insights into ag entrepreneurs to serious investigations into the unintended consequences of popular production methods, to life lessons learned along the way to telling the tale. Each story also includes a link to the original story, in case you missed that. Enjoy a look back, with our 11th story, shared by Victoria G. Myers.


One of my favorite articles from 2021 was a profile on Marty Irby, a lobbyist and animal welfare activist. I liked the fact that Marty defies preconceived expectations of someone in his position. He may live in the Beltway, but he still has the heart of a Southerner, and a way with words that just made him fun to write about.

It's true, Marty represents a viewpoint that makes some of us uncomfortable. But in all fairness, in a world of extremes his moderate positions haven't endeared him to either side of the barbed-wire fence he tries to straddle, philosophically speaking.

Marty believes everyone in agriculture has a big job ahead of them. He contends that in Washington, D.C., many politicians have sold out both the family farmer and animal welfare with policies they've created, adding: "I am here to say you can absolutely have a happy marriage between animal welfare policies and raising animals for food. That's what I fight for every day."

I took a little pushback on this article. There were readers who didn't understand why I would profile someone who supports legislation and positions they don't agree with. To be clear, writing about someone doesn't mean you've adopted their ideals as your own. We don't have to agree on everything, but it's important to get out of our self-built bubbles and talk.

There are plenty of anti-meat activists who are absolutely extremists, and they will never understand or consider the more moderate view when it comes to animals and agriculture. But when we find someone who supports America's farmers and ranchers, yet may have a different opinion on where things need to go, why not take the time to hear them out?

In a world full of crazy it just may be the kind of news we all need to hear.

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Victoria Myers