Editorial: Why the intersection of diversity, bias, and farming is discussed here


Discussing race and discrimination is never easy. It doesn’t matter if it relates to the corporate world, athletics, education, or even agriculture, the conversation is likely to be emotional and uncomfortable.

Yet addressing the ag industry’s most gut-wrenching, complex, and timely issues has long been central to AGDAILY’s identity.

From our earliest days as a digital platform, pivoting with each emerging trend, we have created forums to discuss young farmers and the future of agriculture, farmer stress and mental health, and the aggressive and sometimes violent fringe of anti-agricultural activism.

And throughout 2020 and into this year, our publication’s strategies haven’t changed. We took on two topics that dominated the nation’s cultural psyche: the COVID-19 pandemic and what it means to be Black in America. As sicknesses inched into rural regions, coronavirus vaccines began to roll out, machinery boycotts emerged, and financial allotments were distributed by the government, the issues of health and race rose to prominence in our agricultural circles.

These things became part of the national news cycle, and as a news outlet, it became necessary to be on the front edge of what was happening in our broader world and how those events impacted farmers and ranchers.

So, we wrote about it, and we shared the work of others who were bringing insights to these topics.

Our efforts manifested themselves through our industry-defining exploration of race and agriculture and through other pieces we’ve written about race and Black farmers. We talked, too, about other demographics that the U.S. Department of Agriculture classifies as “Historically Underserved Farmers & Ranchers” — including beginning farmers and veteran farmers. The USDA also pours specific attention and resources into women farmers, and we remain aware of sharing news and achievements that center on them.

We already cover a diverse array of crops, livestock, and technology on AGDAILY, and it became a natural progression to further examine which social and health issues we delve most deeply into.

However, as we take the lead in wading into the most uncomfortable topics that relate to agriculture, this creates friction points. Each one of us is a part of this exciting, innovative, and essential agricultural industry, but there’s an emotional response that cannot be ignored when discussing topics such as a person’s race or sex.

Making people unhappy is not our goal. We don’t try to sow division or unrest. Instead, the hope is to cultivate thought-provoking conversations and to welcome into our shared platform the perspectives that people may not be immediately familiar with. We want to be the space to have a discussion, the forum for a palatable yet challenging conversation into the history, present, and future of the world around us.

AGDAILY doesn’t ban social media users or other commenters who dissent; rather, as an outlet, we embrace the opportunity to see things uniquely.

The exchanges across our pages are not only timely and relevant, they are also important. The most lasting change comes from within, so the conversations we can have among ourselves will be more valuable than the conversations that can be imposed upon us from the steps of a state capital or from the halls of the U.S. Congress. We won’t always agree in our conversations, but they will be ours.

Particularly with discussions about race, the end game with AGDAILY’s reporting is not to disparage or undermine others in the industry. Sometimes, we report on programs or advancements that are newsworthy; other times, we celebrate accomplishments or simply share the stories of their lives. Showcasing the value of Black and Brown people is a win for agriculture. To help us do this, we have recently added two young minorities in agriculture to our staff. We have also added a veteran farmer writer and expanded the number of women contributing to the site. Their experiences and perspectives give context to some of the most important untold stories of our industry.

We enjoy amplifying these diverse voices, because White, Black, Brown, young, old, male, or female, so many people have engaging and important stories to tell and viewpoints to share. People will react differently to all of these issues. Importantly, nobody should ever tell you how to feel about anything like this.

Take every opportunity you can to speak your mind, to speak your heart, and to speak your truth.

We need every perspective included if this is going to be a real discussion. Without that, our industry will never advance.

Ryan Tipps is the managing editor for AGDAILY. He has covered farming since 2011, and his writing has been honored by state- and national-level agricultural organizations.

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Any views or opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect those of AGDAILY. Comments on this article reflect the sole opinions of their writers.