Employee Spotlight

Bev Flatt Elevates Farmer Voices to Transform Agriculture

"I’ve been passionate about supporting the next generation of agriculture leaders for years."

Bev Flatt on her family owned and operated farm
Bev Flatt on her family owned and operated farm.

For Bayer US, agriculture sits at the heart of our sustainability initiatives. Ag science has the power to transform the health of people and the planet, and investing in ag innovations is paramount to enabling real change. However, at the forefront of implementing those innovations are farmers themselves who, although tasked with the monumental hurdle of feeding humanity, often don’t have a platform to make their voices heard. 


Enter Bev Flatt, Bayer’s Global Partnerships Manager for Agriculture Advocacy and Activation. In our recent conversation, she elaborates on how owning and operating her family farm while advocating for the farmers Bayer serves helps her push agriculture to the forefront of sustainability conversations. 


What sparked your interest in agriculture, and how did that lead you to Bayer?

I’ve been passionate about supporting the next generation of agriculture leaders for years, but I think the spark was lit during my graduate program. I was working in the Tennessee Public School system where I managed a public high school transformation program. Nashville had a long history of graduation rates in the 40th percentile, and it was my job to turn around attendance and increase the number of diplomas we awarded. My team created and implemented a high school curriculum that introduced students to college and career pathways centered in agriculture. It was exciting to increase accessible education about ag and make a real difference in these kids’ lives. 


Bev and her family working on the farm
Bev and her family working on the farm.

 After that program, I was connected to Bayer by participating in the Youth Ag Summit. This is a biannual event hosted by Bayer Crop Science that connects and empowers the next generation of agricultural leaders. We were brought together to debate and develop skills to address some of the world’s toughest ag problems. At 25 years old, I was trying to figure out what I wanted to do, and I was intrigued by the impactful work being done at a huge multinational company like Bayer.


You worked a few years abroad before joining Bayer in the US. What was that transition like?

Yes, all in I’ve been a Bayer employee for 4 years both in the US and Germany but have been connected to the brand since the Youth Ag Summit in 2015. 


A few years after the Youth Ag Summit, I was invited to join Bayer’s Global Communications team in Monheim, Germany. I had never visited Germany and didn’t speak the language, but I said yes and moved to a tiny village for three years. I focused on animal health and eventually moved into crop science. 


But during that time, my husband, who was back in the US, and I decided to purchase 500 acres outside of Nashville, and today we own and operate our own farm. We raise cattle, goats, chickens, and honeybees. While I was in Germany, my husband ran the farm in Tennessee—that was a crazy time! However, I got extremely lucky with timing because I ended up moving back to the US a week before the German border was closed due to COVID. I was able to be socially distant on my farm, which is one of the best places to be during a global pandemic. 


Cattle and goats raised on Bev’s farm
Cattle and goats raised on Bev’s farm.

What excites you about your role in the farmer community today, both as a first-gen farmer and Bayer employee?

I’m really passionate about enabling farmers to use their voices to tell the world what they need. From policy support to products from Bayer, farmers are always looking for ways to communicate what they need to provide the quality and quantity of products we depend on. 


Advocacy is at the core of what I do, and what I love to do. I’ve held my current role since July, and it’s my job to empower farmers to use their voices to generate a better ag environment for them to thrive in. Even using social media to tell Americans what it takes to get food from a farm to their plates is a powerful form of advocacy.

What messages are you hearing from the farmers you represent?

If there’s one thing I’ve learned in my role, it’s that farmers are never short on opinions. Farmers have kept stewardship over their land for generations, so they value independence and the ability to be decision-makers. They want to hold seats on committees and provide testimony when governments are formulating policy, but they’re often overlooked for those opportunities. 


Bev on her family farm.

Because of their innate desire to make choices that work for their unique farm, they want all the science-backed tools in their toolbox. They want to be able to select the ag innovation that makes their process as effective as possible. For example, if they want to adapt their practices to the local climate in a given year, they need autonomy to select biotechnology or crop protection. 

Farmers are motivated by outcomes. It’s our job to provide them with the best tools, and their job to implement the solution – or solutions - of their choice.

How do farmers fit into the current sustainability dialogue?

Farmers ultimately sit at the intersection of climate and sustainability conversations. I would argue they’re the most impacted by climate change, erratic weather, flooding, droughts, etc. But it’s not new to them and they recognize that ag science has great potential to solve those challenges, too. Through our crop science efforts, Bayer can reward them for the work they do to bring food to our plates. Our sustainability solutions are our way of saying “thank you.”


Bev and her family working on the farm

Because of climate change, farmers don’t have the luxury of focusing exclusively on what they grow from the land. They have to also focus on what they can provide the land. Carbon credit programs or biodiversity subsidies are just a few examples of ways we can help farmers keep their lands healthy and give back. 

What do you want your colleagues to know about Bayer’s sustainability work?

My big picture hope is to reach people, and colleagues, who aren’t involved in agriculture. I want them to view the transformative power of agriculture as a real solution to climate change. 

I realize our sustainability work can make some colleagues uncomfortable. For 150 years, our business model was based on inputs and selling chemicals, seeds, or traits. It was a very transactional effort. But today, we’re long-term partners with our farmers and are invested in their outputs. Those outputs have a huge impact on the health of people. As a powerhouse of innovation, Bayer is fundamentally shifting agriculture business by generating these long-term sustainability-focused partnerships.


Cattle and goats raised on Bev’s farm

Do you have advice for colleagues looking to learn more about farmer empowerment?

Yes. Pay attention to all the voices you hear from. Oftentimes we only listen to leaders or policymakers, but there’s so much leadership and creativity happening at farmers’ gates. In our news, find places where farmers’ voices are being brought into conversation. We’re so customer-focused at Bayer, so I encourage everyone to ask themselves, “How often am I talking to a farmer?”

If the answer isn’t at least once a quarter, let me know and I can help connect you. 

6 min read