“You have enemies? Good. It means you’ve stood up for something sometime in your life.” – Winston Churchill
No one likes having enemies. No one likes being disliked or judged. However, when you work in an area as controversial as agriculture, it’s bound to happen. It’s especially likely when you’re willing to put yourself in the public eye.
Today’s modern agricultural producers face a lot of attacks. Not all are blatantly and openly hostile (although those are many). And not all of these attacks come from strangers.
As I skimmed my Twitter feeder following lunch today, I saw a friend expressing the frustration and hurt that comes with having an animal rights extremist in her family. I felt for her, especially since she’s a teenager who’s just getting her feet under her in regards to farming. Taking that sort of a ridicule from a family member is hard, especially when you’re a teenager.
Situations like this aren’t that uncommon. I’ve written plenty of times about how my suburban college peers don’t always know how to feel about my involvement in agriculture. Some of it is because they don’t understand why a little girl like me would want to play in the dirt and wear gross clothes. They don’t get that there’s a lot more to it than that. Others don’t understand because they assume I’m some sort of bad person for it. I’ve broken through a few of these. Many of them don’t realize I support agriculture as a whole industry. They don’t know that I love my local farmers’ markets and that I support local food. They don’t know that I spend just as much time working in nutrition and health. They don’t know the whole story.
Regardless of whether you’re a conventional grower who feeds 119 people or a tiny organic grower than feeds 30, you face some sort of attack. It comes from within the industry. It comes from outside of the industry. It comes from all over.
Farming isn’t all sunshine and open spaces and being one with the outdoors. It isn’t all hard manual labor and back-breaking days (although there’s a lot of physical exhaustion involved). The toughness applies to more than just the physical strain. The patience and anxiety aren’t all spent on things like weather and markets.
Farmers everywhere have to deal with the ridicule of the people who disagree with them. No other industry faces this sort of animosity on as large a scale.
As someone who loves the industry in all of its faces, it breaks my heart. So, give a farmer a hug. Most likely, they’ve had to deal with some downright mean folks in the past, because of the job they love.