Is our Ag-vocating pointless?
If you have heard my story, you know that I have a unique viewpoint of agriculture. I didn’t grow up in agriculture. My family didn’t farm and wasn’t one of multiple generations on the same plot of land. Yet, as a child I learned to value agriculture, watching my dad work with his best friend on his ranch whenever he needed help.
After marrying my husband, who moved home to farm the year we married, I dove headfirst into growing roots in our Ag operation. I didn’t grow up milking cows alongside my parents, I didn’t mature alongside the animals that we grew, and I didn’t grow up in a saddle. Yet upon marriage, I did seek and receive “baptism by fire” as I began to work alongside my husband. In a relatively short time, compared to somebody who has ate, slept, and lived farming or ranching since birth, I’ve done all the inaugural things. I’ve learned to drive a tractor and run a combine. I have moved cows, branded calves, helped seed, and have brought meals to the field. I have also signed my name on the dotted line for a massive operating note, and learned many other tasks that make our livelihood possible.
Even though I didn’t grow up on the land we are farming, I see and value the sweat, blood, and tears our relatives have put in, that laid the groundwork for us. I empathize with the hardships they endured. I admire and am grateful for their vision for growing their operation. I recognize the struggles they faced, and although they are not my blood relatives, I see and value them as much as a blood relative.
I grew up in California, and when people hear that they get very wary. I understand why and I don’t blame them. I get it, Californians tend to be loud-mouthed, and the opposite politically and in thought compared to most folks in agriculture. I have family who I love, who are part of the loud voices, who by what they say, although they don’t realize it, are in a way threatening our way of life, traditions and feeding the world. I also have family who ask questions, listen and hear us out.
So I have a unique view point of seeing both sides. Yes, I have felt like I am an outsider in Ag circles. I now feel like an outsider in California too. Yet, having both perspectives gives great insight and awareness of things that need to change on both sides.
Those of us in Agriculture, can no longer think or say things like, “you won’t get it unless you grew up on a farm or ranch and are living it”. We cannot let that pass our lips!
Our experiences provide depth and emotion to our advocating for Agriculture. Many of the opposing viewpoints or loudest voices that may be the most detrimental to Agriculture are very emotionally based. Sharing our experiences, struggles, passion, memories, traditions, and loyalty shows investment of the deepest kind and is the best way to combat the statements of emotionally based bandwagon joiners.
Take the American Prairie Reserve, for example. Have you listened to some of their supposed presentations to gain supporters? They pull at people’s heart strings. This idea of putting the animals and the land back to its beginning, to when it was “good”, and negating the “bad” influence of humans, is so ethereal and alluring. Unless of course, you’re those of us who actually love to live right underneath their proposed Northern Great Plains Serengeti!
If we truly mean what we say and really do think that L.A., Washington, DC, folks charmed by the APR’s message, and people who haven’t grown up in agriculture won’t “get it”, then our Ag-vocating is pointless.
I am confident that we all can agree that advocating for agriculture is imperative! Sharing our story and our passion and all that that is, while advocating for agriculture, is a very important piece. A very important piece!
The reader or listener, who is far removed from Agriculture, is offering investment by reading or listening. We need to make sure we don’t discredit them by making statements like “you won’t get it cause you weren’t raised on a farm or ranch and you don’t live it”.
We need them to “get it”!
So tell them about your investment.
Tell them with passion and emotion how you feel closely connected to the animals you raise and the land you care for!
Tell them it’s unique to any other occupation you’ve ever heard of or seen, but don’t tell them they won’t get it!
*This was originally written for HiLine Farm and Ranch, October 2019 issue.