Agriculturalists: Our Own Worst Enemies
"FFA Is Lame AF"
"Why You Should Stop Drinking Milk"
"All Farmers Abuse Their Animals."
"Cows Spend Their Days On Concrete, Never Having Access To Pasture."
"Animals Are Unnaturally Infused With Hormones."
"Dairy Milk Contains Traces Of Puss And Hormones."
All of these statements came from a variety of anti-agriculture articles, marketing strategies, headlines, videos, and more — many of which ended up going viral across social media platforms. Of course at this point, if you're a fellow agriculturalist such as myself, you may be getting angry, appalled, defensive. I was too. I still am. My farming roots burn inside me as I see these statements circulating the web and my Facebook and Twitter feeds. How is something so inaccurate, biased, and lacking of statistical proof gaining so much attention throughout society? And then I realized...the only reason I was seeing these articles and headlines everywhere is because it was my friends sharing it. All of which are advocates such as myself who live, breathe, and survive on our passion for the agriculture industry. We are the ones providing PETA, HSUS, and other anti-agriculture companies with thousands of shares and page views. We are the ones throwing ourselves into the scrutiny and fire of consumers. Us. Agriculturalists. We are our own worst enemies.
While various forms of social media accounts contribute to the widespread reach of such articles, Facebook remains the main powerhouse of social media engagement as more than 64% of United States adults actively using the site according to the Pew Research Center. Half of these Facebook users engage in sharing videos, images, and news related stories. The PRC even states about 46% of users who share posts, discuss issues and events. In an industry constantly under attack and criticized, these numbers do not help us. Your blue and gold FFA heart may be beseeching to share PETA’s article and defend your own as to why they are not “lame af” but in doing so you are only hurting the organization you hold dear. Sharing just that one article, regardless of what you write above it, will cause it to be seen by hundreds of people, and that is only if it is not shared even further from your page. Those hundreds of people most likely didn’t even read your defensive post above it because the headline, “FFA Is Lame AF” will be too eye-catching for a species with the attention span of 3 seconds. You’re better off not sharing it at all and ignoring the urge.
Now here’s the thing. I’m not saying don’t defend our industry to your heart’s content. Being an advocate myself, I take pride in encouraging the public to become educated on the industry and share my story as a daughter of a Kansas farmer who grew up with the utmost respect of animals and the life they provide for my family. The difference is, I don’t share articles contradicting the cause I remain passionate for. Instead of seeing “FFA is lame AF” on my newsfeed, you will find my article, “A Letter To My FFA Jacket.” Rather than clicking on a falsified story with 1 million shares already, “Why You Should Stop Drinking Milk,” you will see my story of a farmkid’s life in, “Growing Up A Farmkid.” You won’t find the video of “sad and abused” cattle, but rather my life story of how I came to love agriculture in my Paul Harvey spinoff, “So, God Made A Farmer’s Daughter.”
Don’t be a part of PETA and HSUS’s plan of attack on our industry. Show the world the power in positivity and numbers in the truth of agriculture through videos and stories of our own. Fill your newsfeed and biographies and Instagrams with pictures of newborn lambs being brought in from the cold winter with a caption explaining why, a video showing a calf nursing for the first time with the help of a farmer, an article or blog post describing your love for the 4-H or FFA organization you have been raised in. Share your story. Not the story that will bring shame and criticism to agriculture. We are better than those who ignore ethical standards. We are better than being our own worst enemy in the social media age. Be better. Be the change.