Mike was recently featured on the AgChat Foundation blog in a post regarding the validity of agricultural stereotypes. Here is the content of the post. For further information regarding the AgChat Foundation, or to comment on this post, please see the original on the AgChat Foundation blog.
Growing up I have noticed that there are several stereotypes about farms and the farmers that live on them. Some of these stereotypes revolve around the idealistic view of a farm, others are formed by interactions that people have had with farmers. The problem with stereotypes is that they lump an entire group of individuals together. There are a lot of farmers in the United States, in fact according to the USDA there are over 2.2 million of us! While we share a love of the land, crops and livestock, we are also a very diverse group of people. I’d bet you could compare every farm in the US and find several things that are unique on each farm that sets them apart from the rest.
I wanted to talk about one stereotype in particular. For some reason, farmers have a bit of a reputation for being hard-headed and stubborn. In all my years and all the farmers that I have met, I have come to the realization that this stereotype in particular is for the most part accurate. I myself find myself unwilling to change something just because a salesman or agronomist tells me their way is superior. After all if it ain’t broke don’t fix it right? On that note, if something is broke, I will use my ingenuity to figure a way to fix it. Being stubborn and hard-headed frequently helps us get through really tough situations. Looking around me here in Ohio and the farmers I’ve met across the Midwest and in fact the U.S., I have to say I’m not exactly an outlier.
It never ceases to amaze me that so many people agree with my thoughts that farmers are a stubborn group. I can almost see the heads nodding and examples supporting my assertion that stubbornness is a characteristic we farmers share. At the same time, a lot of people think those same farmers will let themselves be manipulated by “big corporations” so easily. This could not be further from the truth, farmers, like every other citizen will align themselves with organizations and groups that have similar values as them. For instance, if I have a problem with a company that supplies seed to me I will seek out another seed company that I am satisfied with. Agriculture has and will continue to allow for a diverse set of companies and organizations that will always work to supply a multitude of choices of food for the United States and the world.
No matter how stubborn I am or how sure I am that I farm the right way for me, I appreciate that my neighbors who farm with traditional methods or simply different methods are doing what’s right for them.
So let’s talk about the AgChat Foundation and where it fits into diverse world of agriculture. The Foundation’s is working to help farmers and ranchers share their voice and build relationships with others outside of agriculture. The AgChat Foundation feels that this is important because people are interested about what happens on America’s farms, and nobody better to share this information than farmers themselves, after all they are experts of what happens on their farms.
Yes, as farmers we are experts about what happens on our farms and are willing to share that information by agvocating, but we are also stubborn and not willing to let others manipulate our viewpoints that we have formed over several generations. This means no critic, skeptic, or even sponsor will change a farmer’s viewpoint. On the other hand what will change a stubborn farmer’s view about his or her farm is the knowledge they gain from the relationships that are built with their customers that they connect with both online and off.
I believe in this so fervently I have put my personal time and money, along with others, into creating the Foundation and furthering its goal. I encourage you to do the same thing – it’s as easy as hitting the paypal button at the top left of this page. Through the efforts of the AgChat Foundation, we can help more farmers enter the conversation happening in social media and get more perspectives represented.