By CATHY BERG
As I sit here today in my office watching the trees sway in the wind, and admiring the beautiful hostas, iris’s and bleeding hearts growing outside my office window, I think of how much the world has changed.
Public perception and our beliefs appear to now be more influenced by social media than by factual data and reality. This is especially alarming to me when it comes to agriculture and what the world believes to be true.
I sometimes see things posted on Facebook that really aggravate me. Mostly about how cruel livestock producers are to their animals. If you haven’t walked the walk, you have absolutely no right to talk the talk. Just this past week I was awaken to my husbands cell phone going off at 4 a.m. to the words every dairy farmer LOVES to hear; “the cows are out!. ”
Great. As my husband arrived to the main dairy he was met by a half dozen or so cows lying in the middle of the yard chewing their cud. Although they definitely took their evening stroll through the neighborhood, they came back home. Why? Because this is where they feel safe, where they are fed, milked, and cared for.
Anyone raising livestock will tell you they are probably cared for better than their family members. Their livelihood depends upon it. These are the scenes and stories that should be posted and told on Twitter and Facebook, but we don’t tell our story. Now don’t get me wrong, there are definitely bad players. However, there are bad players in every part of our world…medicine, education, sports, etc…
Agriculture is everywhere you look. We are all impacted, from the people who grow the grain and raise the livestock to those who buy the products in the grocery store. From the time I was born agriculture has been a way of life for me and I really didn’t know anything any different, but I have began to realize that not everyone knows what agriculture is.
Farmers are some of the hardest working, most needed people in the world, yet somehow their hours of endless work seem to go unnoticed in society today. Maybe this is because people don’t care where their food comes from, or perhaps it is because they have no idea. Regardless, there needs to be changes made. We need these people to understand and value the producers whose sweat and hard work went into producing the simple things that they take for granted.
How do we change this? Agriculture is not the bad player. This nation is built and thrives on the success of agriculture. Farming is not a 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. job, it’s usually more like 5 a.m. to 9 p.m. There are no holidays, sick leave, snow days or retirement funds. I tend to believe that if it were so easy there would be more people doing it?
Just a thought… Farmers are essential to people everywhere. In our world today one farmer can feed over 100 people. Farmers need to be proud of where they come from, proud of what they raise, and be positive about the future of agriculture. These three “P’s” are the first step toward agriculture getting the recognition is deserves.
Do your best! We as producers also have to do our best to be positive examples and excel at what we do best. We provide food, environmental benefits, countless jobs, and perpetual protection of our most valuable resource…soil. Clean up your farms, be wise on your decisions as to when to apply manure or spray your fields.
Promote a positive image
Do your best to protect the soil and the water. Involve your communities, introduce yourselves to your neighbors.
Tell your story. Don’t let Facebook tell your story…it is much better told by you!