#Meantweets. Farmers unite and celebrate – don’t give the bullies oxygen

Twitter can be great fun and yesterday I was enjoying some great cheeky banter between our dairy farmer tweeps and their networks when some-one send me a twitter feed with the comment “I see the bullies are at it again”.  It appears there was a side conversation happening.

Twitter can also be sad. Because of these side conversations there are a lot of wonderful people who are small farmers or farmer supporters who don’t feel welcome or feel they will be attacked in these side conversations. These disenfranchised people become twitter watchers rather than active participants so everyone else on twitter misses out on the wealth of knowledge they could share with us

Some-one else who saw the side conversation sent me this wonderful post Am I a Farmer.

I am reblogging it today as my tribute to all of those wonderful people who support farmers. The bullies will never go away. They live in their own little world where they self justify but please be assured the rest of us salute our passionate supporters

Everyone who loves the land and advocates for a a fair return on investment for the people who feed,clothe and put a roof over our heads has skin in the game. Today Savvy Farm girl helps celebrate your selfless contributions

Savvy Farm Girl blogs here and below is a reprint of her post Am I a farmer

This question, or a variation of it, has been posed to me multiple times over the past month, and it seems like a day hasn’t gone by I haven’t thought about it: “Do you consider yourself a farmer?”

At the Women in Science and Engineering (WISE) Conference in Toronto last month I was asked the question by a young woman in the audience. I responded, “yes, for the most part I do,” then continued to elaborate as to why I felt this way.

In many of the circles I frequent day-to-day, whether it be at work or with friends, I am as much a farmer as my parents, brothers, and my farming friends (real and online). In fact, I may be the only “farmer” they know. Many farmers likely have friends like this. My friends don’t know so much about the specifics of farming, but they know I do and if they want to know about dairy or grain farming, I’m the person they ask. They definitely don’t care that my income is not derived from the farm. Some have visited our farm after knowing how much I care about it, and they saw the same passion in my family. For them, knowledge and passion might be enough to justify why I fit the term.

Yet, for farmers it seems to be different. It feels like there are those among us that believe unless you earn your living from the land directly, you don’t “deserve” to call yourself a farmer. It leads to an “impostor syndrome” of its own. Even if I work with farmers in my job, if my family is all farming, I spend most weekends there, helping in the barn or field, I read almost exclusively about the agriculture industry and think of nearly nothing else; I am not a farmer in the eyes of other farmers.

Why do we do this to each other? Is it because we think you must have “skin in the game” to truly understand or care about the industry? Or are we just scared? Scared those who have time to commit to an industry may indeed make an impact and cause it to change? Status quo is so comfortable and farmers are often so busy with the day-to-day, there is little time to challenge it.

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This is exactly why my family has empowered me to speak on their behalf. I’m not on the farm everyday and if I was, I couldn’t do what I do or it would be exceptionally harder. For more reasons than just having the time too; physically, our farm is located further from the “hub” of Ontario agriculture than many others are and rural broadband can be unreliable. My parents also taught us to do what we love and for me, it’s all about talking – public speaking, networking, socializing, debating. I love them all. I’m not sure our cows nor my brothers would care for me to be at the farm everyday. Usually, they’re done listening to me after a weekend.

At the end of the day, “farmer” is still a label. It’s more than an occupation, because it also encompasses a lifestyle and a connection to the land many of us will never shake, but it is still a label. For me, it’s more important I uphold the values which were instilled in me growing up on a farm and do work which betters the lives of farmers I grew up with and the community I grew up in. This betterment could take many forms, but if my talents are used to their fullest by telling my farm story and speaking up for other farmers in pursuit of common goals, isn’t that what’s more important anyway? The income stream is just a means to achieve a goal and should not define who we are

Who is Savvy Farm Girl – you can read all about the wonderful and gutsy Jen Christie here

Who is Savvy Farmgirl?

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My name is Jen Christie. Thank you for checking out Savvy Farmgirl!

I grew up on a dairy and grain farm outside a small, rural Ontario town. As a kid, before I could head off to swimming lessons or the movies, the barn chores had to be done, the rocks picked or the hay unloaded. The work wasn’t easy but at the end of the day, it was rewarding to know you had accomplished something and we saw the fruits of our labour daily on the dinner table. Today, our 6th generation family farm is a busy spot, and I enjoy spending my free time there in the barn with the cows or in the tractor cab in the field.

So, that’s the farm girl. What about the savvy part?

I love marketing. I love networking. I love social media. I love challenging the status quo.

In my undergrad, I lived the mantra; “don’t let your schoolwork get in the way of your education.” I didn’t get it all right, but when other students went to the Agri-Marketing Conference competition in the U.S. to compete and party, I went to meet industry marketing leaders and be enlightened by the speakers. I learned about social media at one of those events before Twitter probably even existed.

These events gave me a deeper appreciation for marketing and cultured my fascination with branding. Working for one of the most widely known brands in the world, let alone, agriculture, allows me to see brand power at work everyday.

For me, social media’s power is amplifying brand promises. Hiding behind an avatar online is even more difficult than it is to hide behind a glossy advertisement. Those who aren’t leveraging social media are being passed in the marketplace by those who are connecting with customers who want to do business with them. Understanding that it’s no longer possible to be perceived as the best, brands literally have to be the best at what they do in the eyes of those who love them is creating a great opportunity in every industry today. Including agriculture.

For me, this means constantly challenging the status quo in agriculture. We can always be better and there is literally nothing that can’t be improved in our industry. When I decided to go back to school for my EMBA and my father asked why, my response was; “If I’m not going forward, I’m going backward.”

This mindset has created an insatiable curiosity about the definition of sustainable agriculture and the social licence with which farmers operate. It perplexes me the world has as many obese people with too much to eat as it does hungry people, dying from not enough to eat. Agriculture plays a role in changing this dynamic, and I believe it’s all of our issue to own and address individually, in our home and on our farms.

I love the lifestyle farming has and continues to offer our family. I seek to promote this everyday in my career, my community through speaking opportunities and online. If you’ve followed my blog or think this sounds like something you’d like me to work with your organization on, let’s chat. I’d love to see how we can work together

Author: Lynne Strong

I am a 6th generation farmer who loves surrounding myself with optimistic, courageous people who believe in inclusion, diversity and equality and embrace the power of collaboration. I am the founder of Picture You in Agriculture. Our team design and deliver programs that inspire pride in Australian agriculture and support young people to thrive in business and life