What comes to mind when you hear the phrase “thank a farmer?” You know you’re familiar with it. In one sense, it’s an unofficial cause to raise awareness — these words can be seen on the back of farm truck or nailed to a barn side. We’ve got farmers promoting farm appreciation to consumers checked off, that’s well and good. But where are the farmers promoting consumer appreciation to other farmers? It might be high time we start asking, where’s the “thank a consumer” or “thank a veterinarian” campaigns?
With the fall of the agriculture from being a mainstream occupation, the waning appreciation is reasonably frustrating. Bitterness beyond that risks pushing too deeply into the “us against the world” mantra. Could it go so far as to create unintentional feelings of entitlement, overlooking the many parallel industries in a symbiotic relationship with agriculture?
Now, of course, this isn’t to say any farmer has literally asked or expected to be personally thanked. Nor is there necessarily a concrete, widespread belief anyone is automatically owed more than anyone else. But when the unpleasant topics of thankless labor, greedy consumers, and underpay come about, you’ll certainly see many communal nods of agreement. This is not without due cause, but it’s worth noting much more seldom are there discussions about gratitude to loyal consumers, lenders, and other professionals who inevitably get a cut of the commodity check.
We all like to complain — it’s human nature to be drawn to the smoke rather than the silver linings. A bit of scoff at the cushy, well-paid office jobs of others and the sales reps pocketing nice commissions gives a bit of fuel to push through another hard day’s work. But the irony is, while the farmers are making civilized life possible for everyone else, the civilized world also makes farming life possible for them.
Agriculture relies on equipment, mechanics, salesmen, associations, councils, economists, retailers, legal help, lenders, truckers, packers, distributors, processors, and, yes, even public servants. First and foremost, you need loyal and willing consumers, many of whom you will never see, voting to keep you in business with their dollars.
Farmers are not the only ones who frequently sacrifice family events and holidays in the name of labor. The veterinarian, the trucker, and even the guys keeping the lights on can all relate. In the grand cycle of things, there’s a reliance on countless other thankless underpaid hands, passing down through the resources coming to the farm and handling the commodities as they leave it.
Perhaps we could add a few additional phrases to our arsenals along with our marketing, campaigns, and public appearances. Or maybe … we don’t need any new words at all. Every time a check comes in, each time an exhausted suburban mother with antsy toddlers selects a package labeled “Product of USA,” whenever a banker in a pressed suit signs off on a crisp new ag loan, and whenever an employee punches the clock in a chilly barn or packing plant, all we really need is a good old fashioned thank you. A thank you for having faith in us and our dreams. They may not understand the gravity it has for the rural world, but they’re there supporting our efforts through their choices.
Jaclyn Krymowski is a graduate of The Ohio State University with a major in animal industries and minor in agriculture communications. She is an enthusiastic agvocate, professional freelance writer, and blogs at the-herdbook.com.