Dear Consumer…

 In today’s world of equality where we are fighting for equal treatment and open-mindedness for all, I have a request. We asked society to be open-minded to different cultures, religions, race, sexual preference, but why can’t we be open to hearing about people’s careers and not stereotyping everyone. I’m a college professor the stereotype for that means I’m smart, well-educated, eloquent, and  in this case I likeIMG_3224 to think the stereotype is right, but I’m young, I’m a female, and I’m very personable with my students. So you could say I break the mold. My husband and I are farmers.  As a researcher at the university and communicator I  know the stereotypes well.  We are older, we may not be as well-educated, and all we are out for is money. The stereotype say we sell out to “big ag.”
Just as you’re open to someone’s race, please be open to understanding us as the farmers  who feed your family. Our farm is an LLC, not because we’re out to make money, because we have to protect ourselves legally. Farmers employe help during planting and harvest, not because were a large corporation trying to grow , but because this isn’t a one-man job. Every year we put hundreds of thousands of dollars on the line at the mercy of mother nature and economic markets around the world. We gamble, and some years maybe we make money but other years we struggle to pay bills, if we even can, all while trying to feed and clothe our family just as you do yours. We want to take vacations just like you do, we want our daughter to have a good college education, just like you do. And so we try to grow our operation not to be greedy but to make money when we can to balance the bad years with the good.

Every trip across the field whether it’s spraying chemicals, planting, or harvesting costs us money, let alone puts off  emissions into the environment. So we’re not going to do it anymore than we absolutely have to. We’re not going to put on pesticides just to throw on pesticides, we only do it when we need to to produce a healthy crop. On our farm we do  no-till to reduce our trips across the field compacting the soil and hurting the environment. We soil sample by the acre and only apply fertilizers and pesticides on the square foot of soil that needs it, and only just to make it grow well.

We don’t want someone to stereotype based on the color of their skin, so why do you stereotype me as a Farmer and how I care for my livestock. My animals are part of my family; they eat before we do. No one opens Christmas presents or goes to church before the animals get their breakfast. I will stay out in the below zero temperatures all night long to make sure a lamb survives. I don’t abuse my animals to make money, I take care of them. But yes they are business. If you were a hairdresser would you think you could just go in and start chopping someone’s hair and be successful? No, just like I couldn’t go in and harm my animals and still have money to feed my family. My sheep get antibiotics when they’re sick because I want them to live. My daughter gets antibiotics when she’s sick because I want her to live.

Please don’t stereotype my family for the profession we have. As educated consumers you can’t believe the images and the stereotypes always put before us in the media when it comes to race, religion, sexual preference, or gender, so why do you take everything for face value  when you see something negative about my family. I’m not against being a vegetarian, I’m not against organics, I’m not against GMO or chemicals. I don’t make my mind up based on one blogger’s opinion or one news report. I do research myself, and I look at all the facts and where those facts come from before I make an informed educated decision. Please get to know all sides of agriculture before you lump us all into one stereo typical box.

Sincerely

A wife, mother, college professor, and farmer

4 Comments on “Dear Consumer…

  1. So how do we get consumers to understand that, when everything else they hear is anti gmo, anti “big ag” whatever that is, anti animal ag….when restaurants and manufacturers use all these issues to score marketing points.

  2. Carolyn, that is a good question that so many of my peer researchers in ag communication are trying to figure out! What I think we have to do is learn how to use those terms too. We need to find the right terms that fit what we do and share them!

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