Dealing with Public Dissent

Ag folks all over are facing attacks from all directions. It’s not just mass production agriculture, either. Even the small organic farmers face tough times. Disappearing farm land, the rise of “urban farming” and trendy, selective diets create disturbances in the careful balance that is agriculture. One of the biggest problems nowadays, especially for mass production folks such as the ones that run the farm I work on, is so-called “food critics.”

Pollan. I say that name, and just about everyone knows who I’m talking about. He’s out to get “big ag” (whatever that is) and wants to change the way America views food. Fair enough, but when there is plenty of research negating his “truths” it’s hard to say he’s much more than an opinionated food snob.
Running parallel to food critics are “truth-seekers.” These so-called journalists are out to show the world something. Usually, there’s the incentive of fame or money involved. Michael Moore is a well-known face in this arena. Operating on shock value and selective information, these folks show you the truth as they want you to see it. They may call themselves investigative journalists, but they’re little more than biased gold-diggers, in many cases. Agendas overrule morals, and this is where projects like “Food, Inc.” are founded.

Food, Inc. has definitely caused a stir in pop culture today. Luckily for agriculture, it did not win Best Documentary at the Academy Awards this year, but it was in the running. Besides for the fact that it can hardly be referred to as a documentary, it was out-shined by a more uplifting and truthful tale, about a man saving dolphins. I can dig a story like that.
Many folks in the ag community are worried about an increase in hostility towards their industry following the public airing on Food, Inc. on PBS on March 26.
I understand the importance of understanding others’ viewpoints. While I’m directly involved with the agriculture industry, I can understand the fears and misunderstandings people have towards agriculture of all kinds. It’s also valuable to see what the competition has to say, and know how to counter it.
Jeff Fowle, a cattle and horse rancher from northern California has shared dialogue with folks regarding Food, Inc. He’s an advocate of peaceably discussing the issues to try and combat misinformation and to reach a common ground. Jeff is a great example of how a disagreement can spawn open and informative discussion. I admire Jeff’s ability to patiently reach out to those who disagree with him, or don’t understand the industry in which he is involved.
Food, Inc. can show us all a valuable lesson. While it can definitely raise some negative emotions for farmers and ranchers all across the nation, there can be a silver lining. It raises questions among the public, and could actually open avenues for communication between producer and consumer.
I guess the lesson here stands as follows: don’t get mad, get friendly. A common bit of advice I’ve heard over the years is, “Kill them with kindness.” Well, we don’t want to kill anyone. We just want to share our stories. So, in light of growing mistrust from the public, it’s time to extend the hand of peace and show them the valuable stewardship that takes place in agriculture.

3 thoughts on “Dealing with Public Dissent

  1. Thanks for the comment, Crystal. It's so true. Even small ways of reaching out can make a big difference. While the opposition is awful to face, there's a silver-lining to the cloud. Thanks for reaching out and supporting agvocacy.

  2. Hi Kelly. I read an article about you in the Iowa Farmer Today. I really liked it. I would like to send you 3 jars of my new roducts for you to try. I am entrepreneur in the food business and I am finding it hard to get the word out about my products. Please check out my website to learn more. Thank you very much. Sincerely yours, Randall Krogh.

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