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let's talk farm animals

Why Farmers should NOT Speak Up

For more than a decade now, there’s been a movement across Canada with a goal of empowering farmers to take a chance, Speak Up, and share their passion for farming with the public - most of whom have no direct connection with food or farming. And we’re happy to report that movement appears to be growing. We’re seeing farmers start blogs, tweet from their tractors, write letters to the editor on topics of importance to them and take a chance on doing more media interviews when we know that they’d much rather be working in their barns or in their fields. Michele Payn-Knoper of Indiana is a farmer and an agricultural advocate who works tireless to champion the farmers’ cause. We especially like this blog post, posted at earlier this year and reprinted here with permission from her. Michele’s cited a number of the “excuses” she’s heard for farners not speaking up about agriculture - if you have any more, feel free to comment on the blog post below! -  OFAC

 The new year typically starts with motivational tips, hype about resolutions and pressure to make promises of how we’re going to do things differently. Not me. I’m bringing an entirely different perspective on advocacy – a highly sarcastic view on why we SHOULD NOT tell agriculture’s story. Several ag folks from across the U.S. and Canada added to the list on Twitter and Facebook – you’re welcome to post your own comment in the spirit of some fun.
Shhh, there’s no need to tell your story!

15.  Agriculture has little economic contribution – and the American economy is thriving.  After all, 80%+ of the economy isn’t reliant on the agrifood system – and surely your community doesn’t benefit from property taxes and jobs paid by farms.

14. “It’s embarrassing to have people thank you for producing their food. I don’t want people to think I am a corporate shill (every farmer who speaks out is one, right?) says sheep and daughter raiser Venessa in her own Spartan sarcasm.

13. “Who needs consumers anyway? I can still farm without people to buy my grain and animals that eat my grain. I like grain storage.  Those big shiny bins are SO pretty and cheap…” was a heavily sarcastic comment from Sarah Bedgar Wilson, a young farmer in North Dakota (the cold made her do it, I’m sure).

12. The general society has such an emotional connection when we stay quiet.  Or, as Tom Cassidy, farm broadcaster said in satire, “Agriculture does not operate in a void.”

11. “Farmers should not speak out because it’s not their responsibility. The government should take care of it.” sarcastically replied Collin Clarke up in North Dakota (that cold must be brutal).

10. Food isn’t a movement. Speaker friend and suburban mom Eliz Greene put it more eloquently “Nobody is really interested in food. Most people don’t really ever think about food.”

9. Food grows in winter, under the snow.  Or as Ron Service, a farmer in Ontario, tweeted in jest. “People think grass grows in winter – how else could cattle be grassfed?”

8. You enjoy having others regulate how you farm. After all, activists know best how to care for your land and your animals. Never mind that you’ve spent decades learning. “We don’t want consumers to know the truth about how we care for our animals.” was the satire from Sally Colby Scholle, a sheep farmer in Pennsylvania.

7. Hormones in food makes everyone LOVE you. REALLY love you, if you get my drift. Never mind that cabbage has more estrogen than beef. As one of my close friends in yuppy suburbia Atlanta Facebooked “People think their meat is “made” at the grocery store.”

6. People know where their food comes from. One of those factories, right?  Or, ask Bob Kinford (a stress cattle handling educator & horseman in Texas) says “Have to keep those trade secrets a secret. Don’t want people to know that food is not made in a factory.”

5. Why teach kids how to stand up for what’s right?  It must be over-rated. And it’s not like they deserve to know simple things like where their food comes from. Speaker friend and suburbanite Karl even pointed to the discovery that a food chain exists when they go to the State Fair.

4. Today’s technology makes it so difficult to go beyond your zip code. After all, auto steer tractors, GPS and smart phones are inefficient – especially when you throw in Facebook.

3. Environmentalists love farmers. Just ask the EPA. Or as technology-loving Nebraska farmer Zach Hunnicutt added with a laugh “Everyone knows their farmers do a good job with their animals and their land, and would never listen to carpetbagging extremists who try to influence legislation .”

2. Biotechnology will make you grow a microphone in your ear to communicate your thoughts, so don’t have to bother speaking up.  O.K., so I made that up – but it’s as ridiculous as other claims that have been made.

1. Because all people ever needed to know about farming they can learn from HSUS, Sierra Club and Greenpeace.  And they’ll gladly tell your story for you! As Jason Lehnst, an agribusiness recruiter, sarcastically added “Because all I ever needed to know about farming I learned from H$U$ and it was accurate?”

And for the record, you don’t have my permission to quote any of this unless you ask. However, you are welcome to add to the list in the spirit of satire. Let’s make all the excuses now so we can get them out of the way!  By the way, if you work outside of ag and wonder about all of this, let us know. Maybe we can overcome our excuses enough to help.


Posted by OFAC on March 4th, 2011 :: Filed under Consumers,Education and public awareness,Farm life,HSUS,Misconceptions,Speaking out,Uncategorized,Urban Myths
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