One thing that was affirmed to me during the “toxic wheat” debacle that happened a few months ago, was that farming is a lot like parenting. Why? The way a farmer farms and the methods, technologies and products that a farmer uses are a very personal decision. It can be as simple as defending one’s tractor colours to defending the choice of herbicide you spray on your crop. There’s envy, pride, arrogance and judgment flooding my social media feeds. I have felt this as a mother in our online world in the mommy wars. I have been told that by being an advocate for breastfeeding that I make formula feeding mothers feel ashamed. I have even had a comment picking me apart regarding my winter car seat safety blog post. You just can’t win the Internet, you really can’t!
I was very shocked that the agriculture community didn’t band together to support each other after the lies that were written about wheat farmers regarding glyphosate application. The response that I saw from one farmer reacting to the “toxic wheat” post was: “I am a farmer and we never do that on our wheat farm and neither do our neighbours! THAT IS ILLEGAL!!!” and it received hundreds of Facebook likes. Before we make blanket statements like that, we need to ensure our due diligence and talk to other farmers. Perhaps this isn’t done in the state or the province you live in, but that doesn’t mean that no farmer uses this practice or that it’s illegal. Sometimes we owe it to each other to dig a little deeper before making such offensive statements—give a fellow farmer some credit.
@NurseLovesFarmr I cannot research ignorance. Most North American ag schools are funded by Monsanto Dupont and Bayer. The one in Guelph is!
— Drumlin Farm (@DrumlinFmGuelph) December 21, 2014
I admit that I get very frustrated with the way that a lot of organic products are marketed as I find it is very disingenuous. I make that no secret and I frequently engage with activist groups to call them out on their lies and propaganda, but I have always had a disclaimer that I don’t care that organic farmers choose to farm organically. It doesn’t affect me how any farmer chooses to farm, so why must we tear each other down? There’s enough activists and consumers already doing this! We certainly don’t have to sit around in a circle, hold hands and sing, but we can at least respect each other as individuals and an industry as a whole to not tear each other down along the way? This widens the gap between the consumer’s legitimate questions and the farmer.
I’ll be the first to admit that I do not get along with everyone in life (I think it would be a miracle to find someone who gets along with everyone!). It’s evident that I have gotten under some farmers’ skin in the online agriculture world, and I’m fine with that. Farmers have been some of my biggest critics and have taken the time to tell me to stop doing what I’m doing (agvocating), because “it’s not helping”, that my views on marketing are wrong…they have just been SO cynical towards seemingly most things I do. I will never stoop to name-calling and gossiping, especially in a public forum for the world to see, that’s not the kind of person I am. Most of these comments happen on Twitter, and that’s what the block and mute buttons are for. I don’t need to subject myself to ridicule or read someone’s constant criticisms of the things I say and do, this is why I mute without hesitation and block only when necessary.
I surround myself with people who lift me and others up. Does constructive criticism help? Absolutely. True friends and people who care about you will still do that for you. I’m not the kind of girl that needs constant praise and reassurance, trust me, but people who constantly attack and disagree with everything I say? I can’t be bothered. To them I say: be strong enough that you don’t have to tear others down to make yourself feel better. You’re a bully and I don’t have time for that.
I have seen farmers bully other farmers, gang up on them, send threatening emails, snarky tweets and drive each other out of sharing their farming stories and educating consumers because of intimidation. I have personally seen way too many farmers step back from social media because of this and it needs to stop. Dealing with hateful activist consumers is hard enough to have the motivation to keep agvocating. There’s MANY TIMES I have wanted to throw in the towel, shut down this blog and say “I don’t deserve this, it’s not worth it”.
I don’t care if you’re a farmer who has found a small niche market for organic, humanely-raised, GMO-free food, or if you’re a conventional grain grower that farms 20,000 acres and doesn’t have multiple labels to attach to your end product. What I do care is how you treat me and those around you. It’s time to stop throwing each other under the bus, don’t you think?