Throughout history, agriculturalists have faced an array of different oppressions. Some of the most obvious ranging from weather to grain prices; however, the issue that is probably most commonly overlooked is society’s mislead views on the industry. In my agriculture communications class, I learned that this issue dates back much further than I had even considered. In the early 1800’s, there were no farm magazines, there were no websites farmers could log onto to learn how to better do something, so they relied solely upon “How To:” journals and books. To the untamed eye, this form of presentation seems up to par, especially when compared to even older forms of transferring information which relied exclusively upon word of mouth; however, it wasn’t farmers who were writing these books, it was outsiders that saw an opportunity in a market to make money. Businessmen would write books telling farmers how to improve their skills, despite their limited knowledge and experience on the subjects their articles discussed. These early agricultural journals of the 1800’s, set the precedent for future magazines to develop into what they are today.
Although agriculture as an industry has dramatically evolved from the traditional horse and plow, society’s conceptions of farmers being incapable and uneducated has not. Back then, those who saw themselves as better equipped wrote journals telling farmers how to do their jobs, today it is that same agriculturally uneducated category of people judging farmers for the way in which they make a living. The fact of the matter is that consumers today seem more inclined to relate the source of products to a store, rather than from a farm. They make no distinct connection between farmer and product, and instead associate produce to the shelves it sat on before they collected it. I think that the minuscule respect farmers get from the general public, makes it easy for those who are uneducated to believe many other common misconceptions about agriculture.
For instance, the idea that farmers are destroying the environment is for one, completely inaccurate, and secondly, perilously harming the industry’s reputation. Farmers are the original conservationists of land and water resources, and have maintained those same ethics throughout time. The Earth itself is farmer’s sole component to make a living, so destroying it’s resources, would consequently eradicate the hopes of propelling an industry they have dedicated their lives to, into the future. Rather than harming their exclusive colleague, farmer’s work hand in hand with the environment to ensure prosperity, not only for themselves but on a global scale. In all reality, the complaints people are perceiving as environmental issues, oftentimes are not even sustainable, due to the evidence agriculturalists leave that prove they benefit the environment more than many other organizations. Farms present communities with benefits such as green spaces, fresh produce, and wildlife habitats; all while using far less resources than the average suburban home. Nonetheless, the general public immediately place confidence in misguided “facts” and gain false beliefs in the environmentally sound works of the people who single-handedly feed the world.
Perhaps the most irritating delusion about agriculture, is the idea that all farmers are uneducated. This is the myth that needs busted the most. Although many traits of agriculture and farming date back to the olden days, farmers do need a post-high school education to be successful in an industry that has become far more evolved than our ancestors could have ever envisioned. Much like many other professions in today’s technologically evolving culture, farmers must be life-learners, because the information will never cease to progress. In order to remain competitive and have a continuous profit, farmers have to be adaptable to on-the-spot training in techniques and skills. To those who just see farmers as the stereotypical “hick” with little knowledge, it is understandable to find it difficult to put faith in an industry full of those types of people; however, it needs to be made clear that education is not an issue in the agricultural industry. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. New information and technology is being discovered everyday, which is how agriculture has developed into one of the oldest and fastest growing industries across the globe.
One of the most catastrophic organizations to the agricultural community is People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, the damage PETA’s misconceptions cause to agriculture’s reputation is monumental. PETA’s videos that are plastered on the internet, lead the generally benighted public to believe that agriculturalists physically harm and mistreat their animals. If you’re looking for biased and gruesome garbage that’s sole purpose is to demolish agriculture’s reputation, www.peta.org is the site for you. Much like land resources, farmers primary source of income revolves around livestock, why would they abuse something that is only going to make them money? Of course, much like in any industry, there will be those few people whose morals differ from the status quo. Despite the presence of a few bad players, that doesn’t mean consumers should quit on the whole team. Good environments lead to good products, so there would be no sensibility in farmers leaving their animals neglected and starved— it defeats the purpose of having them, which is ordinarily purely for profit.
On Super Bowl Sunday 2012, during a commercial break in the fourth quarter, a Dodge Ram commercial sent chills down the backs of millions of Americans. They used a speech by a small-town radio broadcaster named Paul Harvey, as the backdrop of the ad known as “So God Made a Farmer”. This single ad stood out against the hundreds of ads ranging from obscene to ridiculous of the Super Bowl that year.
This video is part of an effort to endorse the face of agriculture to be seen as an undeniably sound and dynamic industry. Dodge is one of the few companies to play a part in the fight against the misconceptions agriculture faces each day. In the early 1800’s, farmers may not have needed an education, but times have changed. Farming used to be a back-up plan, if nothing else worked out then young men could always go back to the farm to work. What people don’t realize about today’s agriculturalists, is that their job description no longer revolves around their ability to till the land with a horse and plow. The days of learning everything you need to know about farming from what grandfather passed down from generation to generation are indubitably outdated. As Dodge’s famous commercial proves, farmers today must acquire enough education to preform many different professions, typically in the same day. They must have training in: business, animal science, marketing, agronomy, communications, and environmental sciences—as opposed to the past, they are the one’s able to do everyone else’s job, yet still receive little appreciation.