The culture of our country is changing. People are becoming more accepting and less traditional. Whether you think it’s good or bad, it’s happening, and agriculture is being left in the dust.
I grew up, like many of you, in a farming community where religion, family and tradition were valued above most other things. I was one of the few teenagers in my high school who would choose to spend Saturday night playing cards with my grandma over hanging out with my friends. Conservative. You don’t wear flashy clothes, speak too loudly or obnoxiously, or broadcast your problems to the world. It’s a “keep your head down and plow through” kind of mantra.
I’m not telling you to start wearing pink sparkly barn boots, unless that’s your thing, or to stop having Sunday family dinners. Maybe we don’t need to personally change, but the way we present ourselves to consumers does.
The old style of videos aren’t cutting it anymore, where we spoke directly into the camera about how much we care about what we do while videos of my cows eating or tractors working in the field flash by. To be honest, I’m not sure those videos ever did work. Our audience wants to be entertained. They want sensational, emotional or funny. Are we so unwilling to step outside of our comfort zones we can’t give them that? Are we so afraid of the way our society is changing we can’t accept the changes and adapt to them?
The last week of March, Dairy Carrie continued her “Humans of Agriculture” series in an inspired, eye-opening way. For example, she featured the story of several LGBTQ people living their lives in agriculture. Can you imagine being afraid to be yourself because your passion lies in an industry that’s so conservative, and you’re afraid the people in it won’t accept you? Is that what we’ve become? Because, people, the world is changing without us. Every other song on the radio drops the F-word, and we’re still editing the word “crap” out of print.
The most-watched videos are sarcastic, suggestive, emotional or shocking, and we’re still showing drone footage of harvest with stock elevator music playing in the background. For an industry so quick to adapt to new research that grows better corn or gives our cows more comfort, are we really still afraid to push the boundaries of how we market? There’s a flavor of Coke called Orange Vanilla, and we still don’t have almond-flavored milk – real milk just flavored like almonds? Think of all the people who would buy it out of sheer confusion – but that’s a topic for another article.
Change is inevitable. You can hate it all you want, but that doesn’t mean it won’t come. Instead of complaining about it, accept it. Open your barn doors to local tours, start a social media account and post candid videos of your life showing people why you love it. Be honest, compassionate and real. Push those who market our product for us and don’t back down.
I started advocating because I was tired of complaining to my dad in our parlor about how little people understood ag. Maybe I’m not making a huge difference, but I’m giving the people who follow me what they want: entertaining answers to a life they don’t know. What did you do for ag today?
Jessica Peters is a dairy farmer in Meadville, Pennsylvania. Follow her farm on Facebook: Spruce Row Farm.