OMG! I’m writing a blog. I’ve become a pretty accomplished fence sitter over my 20 year career in the dairy feed industry, but a new friend has basically called me a chicken for not taking a side on issues I feel strongly about. So. at the risk of coming off as a middle aged douche, I’m putting it out there for the world (or at least immediate family, who may be the only people who read this).
I find myself struggling lately with an identity crisis – I’m not a farmer, even though I grew up on a dairy farm and have spent my entire career working in agriculture in Canada and the US. I’m not really a typical urban consumer, even though I live in town and my neighbors and friends know more about commercial mortgage terms, international trade and website design than what goes on beyond the city limits.
For starters, I love what I do, but there are things I miss about being on a farm. I miss finishing mowing a hay field and getting the last windrow perfect, I miss the sound a tractor makes when the plow pulls through some tough ground and I miss checking the cows before bed and finding everyone settled for the night. I don’t miss Sunday morning milkings, broken hydraulic hoses or having to put down a sick cow.
I have followed the #farm365 Twitter phenomenon very closely and had the opportunity to chat with Andrew Campbell and some of the other key Tweeters. I have a huge amount of admiration and respect for what they are trying to accomplish and want to be a part of the movement. As an “industry” person (this is the box I check at every meeting and trade show), I don’t have pics of early morning sunrises or calves nosing the camera and I have pretty much exhausted snapshots of bacon and eggs tagged with “Thanks to all the hard working farmers”.
As #farm365 has shown, when the ARA backlash happens, as it always does on social media, there is a groundswell of support from other farmers, ag industry and rural consumers. Is this enough of a role for those of us who depend on farmers for our livelihoods or should there be more posts showing how feed is made or the inner workings of a farm equipment dealership? As a proud employee of a successful, independent feed company I want to share what we do. People tend to think of corporations as faceless entities but I think people might be surprised at how much we genuinely care about our customers and that we are fiercely protective of our place within the ag community. Most of the #farm365 tweets are from farmers and I wonder 1) do urban consumers want a glimpse into the multiple industries that exist solely because of farmers 2) is there a benefit in helping consumers understand the importance of agriculture to the rural economy and 3) do farmers view us a partners and equal in promoting agriculture or should we stay behind the scenes and quietly support their endeavor?
I am handling my identity crisis pretty well, I have a beautiful wife and family, a great home in a wonderful community and a job I enjoy going to and look forward to doing for the next 25 years. Is it wrong that I still feel bad for not being a farmer?