Jennifer is a self proclaimed country girl born and raised in Northern California. After joining social media, Jenny met a farmer from North Dakota. She followed her heart all the way to the rural prairies of ND where she is now married to that farmer. Besides spending time with her farmer, Jenny can be found with a camera in hand capturing the world around her, loves the challenges of bringing culture to the North Dakota prairie through a variety of culinary creations, and using her interior design degree to flip their bachelor pad into a home. All of this and more can be found on her photography blog: jldphotographblog.com.
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This week I’ve seen a lot of tension and hype surrounding a certain fast food company who has a history of using drama to sell burritos. You aren’t sure who I am talking about…? It starts with a capital “C” and ends with a “hipotle”. But I am not here to talk about them; they already get more than enough press with their fantasy filled ads that pull on the emotions of people who eat there. Apparently they are releasing another one, which ups the ante and gets even more controversial. Who is surprised…? Not I.
What I want to talk about is how should we, those of us in agriculture, address this? As with anything that threatens and smears our livelihood, our initial reaction is to fight. We have to defend what it is we do every day because we know what we are doing is okay and isn’t at all like some high profile organizations or companies portray us. We want to right the wrongs we’ve been exposed to and set the record straight. We want to stand up and shout, protest, and rally the troops for an all-out war against these particular companies and organizations.
But what is a better solution? What does that look like to someone outside of agriculture?
To someone outside of agriculture, quite frankly, this could look really bad. It could look exactly how we didn’t want it to look. A sudden outpouring of response from the Ag community when an animal rights video comes out or an ad by a company smears the industry could indeed look like we’ve got something to hide. And who is to say that these companies and groups aren’t sitting there waiting for us to take the bait? So then they can reply with “we told you so, we told you ‘Big Ag’ would come out and defend this”.
Our seemingly valiant effort to defend our livelihood has now turned into people taking a more critical look into what it is that we do and wondering what we have got to hide. Clearly, these videos and ad campaigns strike a nerve in us, but often times that is what the company or organization is banking on. They are banking on the fact that we will take their bait and give them even more publicity through our blogs, Facebook statuses, and Tweets. One by one these companies and organizations are racking up the page views by the millions. We hold some of the power to stop these ads and videos from reaching our readers and our influence. The solution? Just. don’t. share. them.
But it doesn’t mean we should turn a blind eye on WHAT these organizations and companies are saying about agriculture. So what’s the route we should take? Pay attention to the issues these organizations are saying. What problems are they identifying in our industries? Here’s an idea… Are you an Ag blogger looking for content? Look no further. You’ve got weeks of content right there in the issues brought up by companies like the big C and organizations like HSUS.
These are the types of issues we should be writing about on the regular. Ryan Goodman over at Agriculture Proud has a great post on writing PROACTIVELY instead of REACTIVELY. Ryan advises to stick to your own experience, share photos to help strengthen what you’re trying to address, be candid, and don’t be afraid to write about controversial topics. You can read Ryan’s full article HERE.
So the next time you come across an ad campaign or animal rights video that boils your blood. Take a moment, breathe, and resist the urge to share it. Assess it, figure out what the main issues it brings up, and do your best to address them. But for the love of Agriculture, let’s stop continuing to give these organizations and companies more publicity because after all, that is what they are waiting for us to do. Like bait for a fish, we take it… hook, line, and sinker.