“They said WHAT?!”
I typically find myself muttering this phrase or something like it when I scroll through my Facebook feed and see the latest agriculture-bashing post made by organizations like P.E.T.A. (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) or the Sierra Club.
Then the questions start popping into my head. Why don’t these people understand that agriculture is good? Haven’t they heard all of the interesting facts? What about those heartwarming stories about farmers and ranchers saving their animals from freezing weather or terrible sicknesses? Why do they want to ruin our reputation?
The answer is simple. We, as avid agriculturists, need to take the time to properly tell our own story. Last month, the National Young Farmers and Ranchers Conference, held in Kansas City, Missouri, welcomed a woman by the name of Chris Chinn to speak about her experience in defending agriculture and telling her story.
Chris and her husband, Kevin, are 5th generation hog farmers, alongside their two children, in Missouri. Aside from farming, Chris is a blogger and advocate for agriculture. Her love for those two things started after her family was targeted by the Sierra Club. Shortly after Chris and her husband expanded their operation, accusations surfaced that said the Chinns were dumping their hog manure in the middle of the road and their operation was wasteful and a pollutant. These accusations slowly turned into threats that alluded at harming her family or shutting down their operation. Luckily for the Chinn’s, those threats never became reality.
At this point, the issue at hand was so blown out of proportion that Chris took a stand. She began her blog https://chrischinn.wordpress.com/, which is all about her family farm: the day to day operations, the special moments her family shares on the farm, and even fun facts and stories about agriculture. Another way she combatted the negativity being generated was to spread the good in agriculture by word of mouth. One of Chris’s shining moments was when she testified in front of Congress about the child labor laws that they were trying to enforce. After sharing her story and how she tells it, she gave us some tips.
Two of the most important tips that Chris gave for telling the story of agriculture are:
- Caption photos of animals using non-human emotions.
- Good example: Our cows are looking so healthy and content today!
- Bad example: Look at our happy cows after eating their dinner!
- ALWAYS be positive.
- There is no room for negativity. We want our customers to understand how agriculture positively impact their lives, so let’s show them how every single day.
By telling our story, we can turn this agriculture hate-train the opposite direction and start driving down a more pleasant path. I challenge all readers to sit down and write one positive message that tells the beautiful and rewarding story of agriculture this week on their social media platforms. Step by step (and post by post) we can write an uplifting story for agriculture that all will know.
Join the Montana Young Farmers and Ranchers May 20-21 in Lewistown, Montana for the 2016 Young Farmer & Rancher Tour. For more information, visit the event Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/events/240397499638356/