I was sitting in a local cafe one evening, typing away with work, when a family of six came in the door. Dad, Mom, and four kids all under the age of 10.
When their food came and they all started eating, I overheard the Dad begin to educate his kids on the horrible state of our global climate. He then proceeded to blame it all on farmers.
What?! It’s bad enough to have to sit and work while listening to a father try to educate his kids over dinner. It’s even worse to hear one attempt to indoctrinate his children to believe that farmers are the enemy and primary cause of global climate change, and that if they don’t change their evil ways, they will destroy the world for all future generations.
Three of the children looked wide-eyed at their dad as crumbs of bread fell in their laps and lettuce hung from their half-opened mouths. The other one continued to shove food from his chubby, young hands past his drooling lips. Mom was off in her own little world, glad to be able to take a bite or two without interruption.
No, the irony was not lost on me: eating food while vilifying its source.
Yes, I bit my tongue. The entertainment value alone was worth hearing him out.
But it got me thinking, “Why do so many people see farmers as the bad guys?” What is it that causes people to come to such extreme, and erroneous conclusions about farmers? It’s not that they are entirely ignorant. They seem to relatively articulate people that have been misinformed, or choose to be.
Here are a few reasons why I think people, in general, have the wrong idea about farmers.
- They don’t understand that farming is a business. Farmers are self-employed. They are running a business. They have input and output, and profit and loss, just like every other business. They must strategically plan in order to maximize their profits and minimize their costs. If they plan right, they come out on top. If they plan wrong, they lose the farm-literally.
They are at the mercy of factors such as:
- Commodity Market Pricing
- Increased Expenses
- Government Regulation/Policy
Hmmm. Sounds like business to me.
For some reason there are multitudes of people in America that get angry when companies are successful. I’m not sure if it’s jealousy, ignorance, or both. In America, we have a capitalistic society, or at least the remnants of one. If you want the government to run everything, go live in another country.
- They forget where their food comes from. There seems to be a disconnect between the farms and the dinner table. Just like the father in my story above, people sit down to have dinner and debate the negative impact of farmers on the environment.
It’s kind of like the tree-hugger who still uses toilet paper. It’s a little hypocritical.
If you think the farmers are doing such a bad job, then grow your own food, raise your own cattle. Oh, no. Wait. Cows produce methane which is destroying our climate, so I guess you won’t eat meat.
Spend a day with a farmer. No, spend a season with them. See just how easy they really have it.
If people could step back and stop to think about where their food comes from and how much work, time, energy, and even heart goes into growing their food, they would probably drive to the nearest farm and thank them, instead of complaining.
- They listen to and believe sound bites. Yes, the climate is changing. Exactly how much and why is still being debated.
There are a plethora of theories for why this is happening. You will hear different reasons depending on which media outlet you listen to and who sponsored the particular “scientific” study that was recently released.
I recently listened to a University TED talk about this subject. Every citing was theoretical. The solutions offered were completely impractical and non-productive. The person giving the talk was blaming farmers while stating that we would have to double our food production by 2050 in order to keep up with the rising population.
If that TED talk is any example of where people are getting their information, then it is no wonder that I overheard the conversation I did in that cafe.
So what do we do about this?
- We can attempt to educate people. (Unlikely)
- We can have the farmers go on strike. (Impossible)
- We can stick up for farmers the next time we hear someone begin to make them out to be the enemy.
Next time, I’ll go with option No. 3 and I won’t bite my tongue.
What do you think? Why do you think farmers are vilified in our society?
I’d love to hear your thoughts.