Social media moves fast. Opinions are cast about, sometimes without further thought. At times, this is okay. Other times, we may have just washed our credibility down the drain. It is sort of like the high school kid who posts a ton of inspirational Bible verses during the week, and all weekend there are photos of them either drunk, or with alcohol in hand at a party. Which image are you going to remember? The underage drinking, or the Bible verses?
I like to follow certain agriculture blogs, and have found it worthwhile to connect with them on Twitter and Facebook as well. It seems to be a more complete picture of the message they would like to convey. I know I’m not the only one, judging by the traffic on those sites.
Today, there was a lot of conversation going on about this speech that made the news last night. I read the article, and decided to digest it a little while before commenting. I watched my Facebook and Twitter feeds, looking to see what others had to say as well.
I have many friends that farm organically, and I have many friends that farm conventionally. When we are together, we do not throw barbs at one another, or make inflammatory remarks about their methods of farming. We are passionate about what we do, and want to promote our products. That is not a bad thing. Every farmer should be proud of what they raise.
There are times when passion takes over, and lines are crossed. It makes me sad when farmers are attacking one another, just because they farm differently. The trend this afternoon has been to take snippets of Mark’s speech (linked above), and use it to bolster their opinion. How does this make us any better than the activists who are bent on putting us out of business, simply because they have an impassioned opinion about what we do?
Jonathan and I both share the opinion that there is room for all kinds of agriculture in the United States. This means that I try very hard not to put down farming practices that are different from mine. I learn more when I try looking at things from a different angle, or try understanding where another person is coming from.
To be honest, I was hoping people would react to Mark’s speech in a way that could heal some of the division we are seeing in agriculture. I would challenge others to view the speech not as validation for any one point of view, but as a courageous admission that maybe we don’t know everything. I challenge my friends and neighbors to stand up for each other. Support the farmer’s choice for how they farm their land, or raise their animals. Our goals are all the same, really.
This leads me to ask, what messages are our readers hearing? The ones where we say agriculture needs to be united, or the messages where we put down that which is different than our own?