Farming is hard work. The hours are long, you are at the mercy of Mother Nature and it’s dirty work. Most farmers have had farming in their blood for generations. It’s not a job, it’s a lifestyle. Our parents and grandparents taught us and we teach our children. It’s often a thankless job. We don’t do it for the praise, we do it for the satisfaction of caring for our animals and crops.
I’m a dairy farmer. I’ve known for a long time I wanted to work with our girls daily. I don’t farm for the money or glory (you have to look hard to find both) I farm because I genuinely love caring for our girls. There’s nothing like helping deliver a calf or watch a cow stand in the parlor and milk to her full potential. These are truly amazing feelings.
So why when we work so hard, does it feel like farmers are constantly under scrutiny in the public eye? My social media has had everything from videos to pictures to memes showing what an “awful job” farmers do. Everything from chemicals to animal welfare, it’s all been covered.
We have been made public enemy number one to animal rights groups. Several other groups have taken to sharing false information on crops with no scientific evidence. With the power of social media propaganda is easily found and shared at our finger tips.
It is easy to be hard on something you don’t fully understand. Most people are 3 to 4 generations removed from agriculture. They haven’t been on farms. It’s much easier to read a short paragraph on Facebook than to actually visit a farm or talk to a farmer. If you don’t understand something it can seem scary. We have amazing technology to use in modern agriculture. Amazing things that while they make our lives easier, can seem intimidating if you aren’t sure of their application.
Many consumers like to envision their food being produced by the iconic middle aged man in a flannel in bib overalls. Milking his 3 cows in stanchions and farming 40 acres. This classic view of a farmer is not very accurate today. We are able to embrace advances in technology to make our lives easier.
This is why it’s important to share your story. Agriculture is a vast and growing industry. Many consumers have never talked to a farmer. They don’t know where to find their answers from reliable sources. We have to make ourselves available.
This doesn’t mean you have to go crazy and start a blog or a Facebook page dedicated solely to farming. Share quick facts or some pictures every once in a while on your personal social media. If you see questionable photos or videos shared, interact with the person who shared it. They may be unaware of its impact or the negative feelings it gives you. Offering true facts can go a long way.
Talk to people. I have honestly struck up conversation with someone at the dairy case before. Explaining the choices that were available led to a great conversation. Just sharing what you do on your farm can be eye opening to people. Example: “We use antibiotics to treat our cows. Cattle are a big investment and need cared for the best we can. Antibiotics are used to ensure a speedy recovery. We have to follow rules when using them to keep food safe.”
Take a moment. Share your story. Chat with a consumer. You will be amazed with the impact you can have.