I am an agvocate 365.
In North America only around 2% of the population raises the food & fibre that feeds, clothes and shelters the remaining 98%. Of that 98%, somewhere around 85% of those people who need to be fed, clothed and sheltered are 2-3 generations removed from living on or near a farm. To say there is a disconnect would be to utter one of the greatest understatements of our generation.
In light of the fact that there is such a lack of muscle memory for an overwhelming majority of those hungry, naked, exposed folks of the day to day toil and joy that is farming Ontario farmer Andrew Campbell decided to tweet daily about his family farm in 2015, using #farm365 to help convey that the life a farmer leads is one that is day in, day out and 24/7/365. This seemingly innocuous plan to help bridge the gap between consumer and producer was simple and brilliant at the same time. The fact is that the 98% not only have little understanding of agriculture and farmers BUT they are very much concerned about how their food and fibre is raised. Entire industries and brands are built, and depend upon, this focus on the “How” and “Where” of produce, meat, dairy, fibre, etc… and with it a fair amount of capturing a share of the highly coveted disposable income of consumers. Whole Foods, Chipotle, Oakhurst, Perdue and scads of other brands and stores have recognized, and in some ways created or redefined, this demand for “responsible practices” and raised the ante for what is considered sustainable, environmentally friendly, natural, etc… and morphed what is actual and true into a trendy, prettily packaged image that is easily marketable and garners a hefty mark up in price and profit (for the brand usually, and not necessarily the farmer). So it seemed only fitting and timely that Mr. Campbell share daily images to help give “a better understanding for all those things that do happen on the farm and go toward producing food.”
For many it is fitting and timely.
For many others it is not.
The idea of utilizing animals for any sort of production or agriculture is something that some people find distasteful, to say the least, and akin to murder and a holocaust at the other end of the spectrum. Those who feel this way not only are opposed to animal agriculture but consider it a crime against nature and living things. They are passionate. They are protective. They are vocal. They are committed to their way of life and their beliefs. Not unlike the farmers I know. So when confronted with an effort that promotes and furthers an agenda that they feel is inhumane, without justification and, more importantly, an agenda that runs completely against their most fervently held belief systems those offended mobilized and vocalized their opposition by efforting a “takeover of #farm365”
It just so happens that what they feel is akin to murder and a culture of cruelty & enslavement is my way of life. And I do not consider myself a murderer, sadist or slave owner…and I am pretty sure that the other 2% of the population that stewards the land and animals in order to feed the world does not either. On Social Media differing opinions collide with ferocity…and this has been no exception.
There have been rallying cries and mustering of troops; rhetoric; vitriol; meanness; name calling; stereotyping; insults and more. On both sides. Lost in all of this is the fact that there is really no wrong or right side-unless you are on either side- but really, what you have are two different belief systems that can do no better than to agree to disagree, but at their worst they can work to destroy each other.
It would be nice if all of the 2% agreed to disagree and focused on promoting rather than provoking. Instead of going back months and months and tagging older images on SM with #farm365 to provoke “the other side” put a concerted effort into sharing positive promotion of the family, land and community that is both essential to and dependent upon farming. Before engaging in an argument online heed the advice and counsel of Don Schindler. And if all else fails, turn the other cheek and do what you do best-be a Farmer.
Because, at the end of the day this is about keyboard warriors who, as true to their beliefs as they are, they are not consumers or customers of animal agriculture and there is no bridging of gaps to be done. There never is with extremists and what we have to remember is that to them WE are the extremists.
But, that is no reason to stop promoting how we steward the land. That won’t stop me from speaking about how we care for our animals. It’s not enough to stop me from being proud of my family farm. I won’t stop. I understand the divide and I comprehend that it is not something I can remedy. But I can have a conversation and I can answer questions from those who truly care to know what I care about.
There is nothing wrong with being a good advocate. There is nothing wrong with being passionate. And in my book, there is nothing wrong with being a good farmer.
We may be the minority. We are that 2%. But we farm 365 and so we must agvocate 365.
Follow along with Andrew Campbell on Twitter and Instagram.
“Advice from An Old Farmer
Words that soak into your ears are whispered… not yelled.
Meanness don’t jes’ happen overnight.
Forgive your enemies; it messes up their heads.
Do not corner something that you know is meaner than you.
It don’t take a very big person to carry a grudge.
You cannot unsay a cruel word.
Every path has a few puddles.
When you wallow with pigs, expect to get dirty.
The best sermons are lived, not preached.
Don’t judge folks by their relatives.
Remember that silence is sometimes the best answer.
Don ‘t interfere with somethin’ that ain’t bothering you none.
If you find yourself in a hole, the first thing to do is stop diggin’.
The biggest troublemaker you’ll probably ever have to deal with, watches you from the mirror every mornin’.
Good judgment comes from experience, and a lotta that comes from bad judgment.
Lettin’ the cat outta the bag is a whole lot easier than puttin’ it back in.
If you get to thinkin’ you’re a person of some influence, try orderin’ somebody else’s dog around..
Live simply. Love generously. Care deeply. Speak kindly.
Don’t pick a fight with an old man. If he is too old to fight, he’ll just kill you.
Most times, it just gets down to common sense.”
Thanks for this balanced article. To encourage discourse and to further our mutual understanding, let me add a few comments from the point of view of a vegan advocate.
There truly is a huge gap between you and I that we will not be able to bridge. The good news is that we don’t have to. We will both advocate for what we feel is right. We will both tell our respective truths. And then we’ll see what the public will decide to do in the long run.
One thing to understand is that vegan advocacy has only just begun. The number of vegans throughout the world is rising at an unprecedented rate as information about the cruelty of factory farming and slaughterplants as well as the health benefits of plant-based eating is becoming more readily available – and vegan food choices are expanding.
Big Ag is trying to stop or discount this information by instigating biased nutritional studies (just like the tobacco industry did before them) and by introducing ag-gag legislature to try and stop the public from learning what is so well hidden behind closed doors.
From my recent discussions with family farmers I can tell they are proud of their operations, they care for their animals, but they – just like the rest of us – don’t like to be confronted with images of slaughter and abuse that is a reality in meat production.
It’s time we took a close look at ourselves in the mirrors. With the luxury of having access to all kinds of healthy plant-based foods that enable us to live long, healthy lives – why should we continue to breed animals for slaughter? Veganic farming is working, too. So why foster violence when we don’t have to?
That is the central moral question on the front of our minds and hearts. To us, the answer is “no”. What is your answer?
Thank you for taking the time to read and comment, Margaret. I am a proud family farmer and steward of the land, and I only know family farmers. The “huge gap” between us will not be bridged today and if there are only two possible answers to your questions then I must respond with the answer you do not wish to hear. But it is an answer I give you honestly and respectfully, with much appreciation and gratitude for your candor and passion, as it deserves nothing less.
I thank you again DeereMilkMaid for this. It is, as said above, balanced and reasoned.
Again, we are on two opposing moral poles. I have in fact already written a piece on what has become something of a showdown on Twitter, and I wondered if you would like to peruse this as part of the debate?
Thank you for spending time reading my own opinions and comment, as well as sharing yours. Your summation makes it all perfectly clear as to the divide between us, “The problem is all animal farming; the problem is all animal use.” I do not know whether I am wrong, and I do reflect upon whether my way of life is one that inflicts grave injustice and cruelty and I fear you would think me exactly as you may have imagined when you learn that I do not feel that I am the en-slaver and punisher. But what I do know is that reasonable, calm, logical discourse such as this from people like ourselves who are passionate and committed to our belief systems can only mean that despite the evil that may lurk around us there is certainly hope for a brighter for all.