The Hurtful Side of Farming


“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.
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3 thoughts on “The Hurtful Side of Farming

  1. I too get the weird looks when I tell people that I'm a nutritionist for dairy cows. My father in law says…"they don't need a nutritionist. They just need to eat grass." One thing is certain in life, and that's change. Many people can't accept these changes and hold firm to their beliefs- whether right or wrong. Thank you for speaking out Kelly! It always helps to know others are in the same boat.

  2. I'm probably one of these 'extremists' (I have no idea what the person in question is saying though so maybe you are using the term in a different way than I assume) in that I am vegan and the idea of raising an animal and then eating it makes me feel sick. This has always been the case, from the first time I went to a farm and ate a piece of cow with the farmers and suddenly realised I was eating a cow that had grazed the same fields as the ones I had petted that same day. The idea of my parents caring for a cow on their land and then having her shipped off to be slaughtered and eating her makes me feel very weird about them as people (particularly as they are originally city people). I wasn't raised vegan, I ate meat and other animal products until 3 years ago, but I do know if I raised a cow with the intention of eating them I wouldn't be able to eat them when they came back portioned for me, and I would probably spend the rest of my life feeling like a murderer. This is me, this is just who I am I guess. I just wasn't being true to myself about it for a long time and letting other people do my 'dirty work' for me.However! I do not hate farmers who raise animals for food, and because of the research I have done; making sure I look at mainstream sources, farmers own websites and Government department resources, as well as talking to farmers online I -unlike many vegans- know some of the realities of the animal agriculture industries. I know it is not financially viable for things to be done differently sometimes and I think it is unfair what some people expect of farmers. For instance, people who want to drink milk without calves being killed. I want to ask them whether they want to run a sanctuary for bulls and feed and look after them, all for no pay?Some people do do things differently, like the Australian wool farm run by two women, one of whom was vegetarian, that did not also sell their sheep for meat. I'm assuming however that this operation was not the most financially viable venture ever run, otherwise I'm sure more people would do things like this.I guess what I want to say is that I appreciate most people who farm animals were raised in the culture and that farming is difficult and involves some tough choices. For the last year and a half I have been living in bushland and have been unable to grow any vegetables as yet as the various native animals and some wild bunnies come and eat everything as soon as it pops its head up. That experience has given me some pause for thought!

  3. Jessamine,Thank you so much for posting! I'm incredibly excited that you came by and shared your thoughts. I'd like to start off by saying that I don't dislike the mentality or choices of being a vegan; some of my favorite people on Earth are vegetarians or vegan, and I appreciate their ability to stick to their guns and do what they believe in. Everyone is entitled to that choice and I give you credit for standing by your system of morals. I don't consider your an extremist for being a vegan. I consider you an informed individual who has made a lifestyle choice that I definitely wouldn't be able to stick to! To that I say, "You rock!"By "extremist" I'm referring to folks who aren't as receptive to other's lifestyles, the ones who feel that we should all pursue a specific choice or lifestyle. There are folks out there who think production agriculture is sadistic or evil and want to end it. Those are the cases that I consider "extreme."I truly, sincerely appreciate your understanding for farmers, ranchers, and the lifestyle they lead. It's wonderful to be able to open doors for dialogue. I consider myself an animal lover, although I'm sure that's hard to understand since I have raised animals for meat before. I recognize that it's an odd situation, but I think we can share a common interest in the well-being of animals and the work it takes to raise nutritious, safe food!Thank you for stopping by and leaving your thoughts!

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