Parody has given the Petersons a platform like no other.
Since their viral debut in 2012 with “I’m Farming and I Grow It” (a parody of LMFAO’s “I’m Sexy and I Know It”), the Peterson Brothers have done much to entertain and inform the public about the real dirt on farming.
“It is our hope that these videos will give everyone who watches them a better understanding of what a real farm in the Midwest looks like,” the clan says on its website. “We try to be as honest and upfront as possible in our videos and our posts and hope that viewers will realize how much hard work goes into farming.”
The brothers consist of Greg, Nathan, and Kendal Peterson, as well as sister Laura, who they chidingly dub their honorary bro.
Greg Peterson is one of the exhibitors at this year’s AgChat Foundation Cultivate & Connect Conference on Dec. 8 and 9 in Kansas City. He spoke exclusively with AGDAILY.
AGDAILY: Did you ever foresee your work on making videos growing into the entity it is today and turning you guys into such powerful agvocates?
Peterson: No, especially even before we made that first video, we didn’t even think it was going to be a big deal. We made it primarily for our friends. And then after one or two of the videos had gone viral, even at that point we still never envisioned what it’s become today, where it’s more than just YouTube videos — it’s a whole platform online and an advocacy movement and a blog. It’s really grown over the last four years to be something that we never thought it would be.
AGDAILY: The motto on your site is Faith. Family. Farming. Tell me a little bit about how the faith side of that enters into your daily lives and how it influences your agvocacy.
Peterson: We talk all the time about speaking up for farmers and ranchers and for agriculture, and telling the story of what you’re passionate about and what we do on the farm. And it’s the same thing for us with our faith. We want to speak up for that, we want to explain why we believe what we believe. It’s such as large part of our lives. We don’t just want to talk about farming, we want to talk about everything we’re passionate about. And, honestly, to be a farmer and to be in this industry, you do have to have a certain aspect of faith, and I think a lot of people identify with that. Really, if you took that out of the equation, we wouldn’t be doing what we feel called to do.
AGDAILY: What’s the biggest gap you see today between the reality of farming and the public perception of farming?
Peterson: There’s two sides of it: There’s one side where people think farmers aren’t very smart or very technological, or they think that we’re not needed or that people out in rural areas are just not very intelligent. It’s just a stereotype of farmers being the farmers from many years ago, where you’re wearing overalls and you’re dirty. … Farmers today are very smart people, and we use all sorts of tools to be successful. And on the other side of the spectrum are all of the people who have been misinformed about certain technologies in agriculture — technologies like GMOs and pesticides and ways of handling or raising animals. Many of these people think that farmers are bad people, either that they’re trying to poison the food supply or trying to abuse animals. Of course, neither of those things are true — it doesn’t make any sense as to why farmers would poison their own supply or abuse the animals that make the money. So people have a lot of misconceptions on both sides of that, and we try to correct that.
AGDAILY: People can get so passionate about GMOs that those debates can be hard to have. Do you find it difficult in trying to change some of those public perceptions that are so deeply implanted?
Peterson: For the most part, if people are open to learning, we see a lot of success. Many people are searching for the truth. They feel they’ve gotten information from both sides and they don’t know what to believe. We’ve had success in teaching them why farmers do what they do. Then there’s the people who are activists or are already set in what they believe, and those people are definitely hard to reach. But our blog is still available to those people, and our posts are still available. We’re not afraid to address what they have to say, but we understand that we might not be able to convince those people. But it’s the people actively searching for the truth who we go after.
AGDAILY: Do you think farmers use social media enough to get the word out about the realities of ag?
Peterson: We could always do more, but we understand that farmers aren’t always on social media. That’s OK because we think you can do things other than on social media to agvocate. We encourage all farmers we know that if want to try social media, they should, because it’s a great way to engage with people. Like with our Facebook posts, you can reach so many people in such a short amount of time, so it’s a very important way to communicate.
AGDAILY: What’s your advice for a young person looking to get involved in agriculture?
Peterson: Try to find something that you can do to get started. Farming is pretty hard to just walk into from scratch, so you may have to do something that no one else is doing or to do something unconventional. There are so many areas of agriculture that you can get into. I encourage people to find a place they can fit in because there’s usually something available.