Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Breaking the stereotype that is agriculture

Dear agricultural stereotypes,

If you asked me who my favorite country music artists today were I would rattle off the Dirty River Boys, Reckless Kelly and Cody Canada without skipping a beat. But wait you say with a confused look on your face, “who are they? What about Jason Aldean, Luke Bryan and Kip Moore?” With my response being…”Who???” Stereotypes happen in all walks of life and some of the most prevalent pertain to the agricultural industry. Just because I farm doesn't mean that I listen to what the public perceives as “country music”.  If you asked someone on the street what their perception of a “farmer” was I’m betting the next round that 100 times out of 100 this would be the description:

1.       White and close to retirement.
2.       Married with kids.
3.       Listens to country music.
4.       Wears plaid (Ok, you got me there)
5.       Drives a tractor all day.

While there is nothing wrong with the small portion of the industry that fits this category, there is more of us out there who don’t. Yes, I am white but I lack a wife and children other than the B-List internet sensation that lives in the studio on my back porch. My IPod is full of Dr. Dre and Too Short rather than “bubble gum” country. I prefer flip flops to boots whenever possible. Wranglers and a starched shirt accompanied by a bolo tie are not my outfit of choice for a night on the town and as much as I love to spend quality time in a tractor it is hard to run an operation that feeds millions of people along with providing vital jobs and much needed business to the community from one. It pains me to see documentaries where the main focus is of the farmer or rancher and there use of a smart phone or other everyday technology in their daily life. Most kids in grade school use this technology so why wouldn't people who run multi-million dollar businesses?! We need to paint the picture that we are as innovative as the Silicon Valley and not the Marlboro Man. The buzzword in agriculture and how we get our message across to society has been deemed “Agvocate” recently. It is in my opinion that a lot of the people we reach out to concerning agriculture are our own. The general public needs to know that the people who keep food on their table and the clothes on their back come in something other than what is seen in a Chevy or Ford commercial. We are family farms and ranches, small to large operations, we grow both conventional and organically. We were raised in small country towns along with large urban communities. Most of us enjoy a great steak as well as a plate of sushi. We are one of the most diversified work forces in America and are proud of what we do. We perpetuate our own identities that the public views. In order to change this we must change the way we market ourselves. Our story to the viewing audience should be that of diversification along with sophistication. Let them know that agriculture is more than just sitting on a tractor or rounding up cattle. In a way we are like California itself, so let’s showcase all we have to offer….

PS. Happy hump day peeps on this extremely wet afternoon. Let’s keep praying for that wet stuff and remember…..If you drive a white truck, I’m going to wave.

#stereotypes #agriculture #agday #empireliving 

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