The following post was contributed by Jacob Pelissero
Most people don’t mind farmers. They view them as a hard working, ethical person that is always willing to lend a hand. These people like to come for a Sunday drive on the weekends and wave as they drive by. Yet these same people tend to have negative views on our farming practices. They tend to make accusations against farmers that are outrageous and based on very little facts. They also tell me that eating 6 eggs for breakfast is unhealthy, because of the cholesterol levels.
As I sit here writing this I have a pamphlet that was handed to me by a vegan outreach group on campus. Flipping through the booklet I cannot help but laugh at what it is trying to inform me of. The photos within are taken from farms in who knows what continent. Yes there are some photos that do depict inhumane conditions, but I highly doubt that the photos were captured in North America. This information book apparently educates one of all farming know how in 15 pages. So basically I don’t need to finish my Ag Bus degree. It shares about how unsanitary the barn conditions are, and that it is horrible for the animals. Yet, I am willing to bet that my barns, or any barn in Ontario is cleaner then South Residence after the first year students move out.
Farming is more then just an occupation. It’s a lifestyle that is passed on through generations. Yet with active groups that are providing ill information to consumers, its easy for farmers to be painted as a ‘the bad guy.’ It is also difficult to fight back against these organizations because of their funding and size. Its reality that even by pooling every agricultural board together we still don’t stand a chance against these groups. Collectively farmers need to put a face to what we provide consumers through various ways.
What the consumer wants is what the consumer will get. The consumer wants local food, farmers will provide local food. They want organic, we adapt our practice and provide organic. They want to know how their food is being treated, and we as farmers are lacking that information transfer. Almost every farmer has been called something just because of an opinion. Do these same people tell their mechanic that he overcharges after repairing their car? I enjoy having the conversation in the grocery store informing people about eggs, and how they differ, and how they are made. I like putting a face to eggs, so the consumer can forget the “factory farm” view and hopefully remember the story I tell of my family farm. Farmers cannot win in a fair fight against these opposition groups because, they like to fight dirty. Photos will always surface with no location attached, or the one bad apple in the bushel will be uncovered. I think as farmers we need to share our story when we are in the grocery store, or ordering a sub at Subway, and how you could be attached to the sandwich. The consumer wants to know how their food is being produced, and as farmers we need to provide them with that information.