Have you ever received an email that you ever found slightly offensive? How about overly offensive?
I mean, of course we have! We all have! What happens when you do? Do you speak up? Ignore? Block. Mark as spam. Do you let it ruin your day or do you invest some time into expressing your opinion?
My response is usually the last of those options. If we don’t speak up, who will? I recently had someone send me an email selling regenerative products, hemp products, etc. But, we can and should sell products ethically and honestly, while not putting down other farming practices in the process.
After reading the frustrating email, here is how I replied:
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“Hey thanks guys! It’s great to connect with y’all. 🙂
Yes, I agree with so much of what you say… personally, I’d pick regenerative over organic any day and am a huge fan of cover crops, no till farming and more! I was a keynote speaker at the National No-Tillage conference earlier this year and will also be a keynote speaker alongside the likes of Robert Saik, Jill Clapperton, Gabe Brown and more at the end of this month. Really looking forward to it! All on board with this as fellow leaders in this space and love the work that they — and people like you — do.
I’m also a huge fan of hemp! I’ve partnered with different hemp growers and have documented the process and whatnot on my social channels as an online influencer in agriculture, reaching around 3 million users per month. It’s so cool! And can offer great products, alternatives, benefits and more.
BUT!!! (There’s always a “but,” right? Haha) 😉
Can we talk about the chart you sent over?
Okay… the message that I send in my keynotes to groups like this is the importance of inclusion. If we want more farmers to switch to regenerative, we have to lead with kindness and facts and not insults. So, the chart irks me a little bit because personally, I feel like it’s trying to oversimplify farming which as we know is FULL of gray areas. The chart, for example, states that most conventional farmers use glyphosate “heavily” and till frequently.
My question to you would be, what do you consider “heavily” and “frequently?” Are we talking fruits? Veggies? Grain? What region? When, what is the pest pressure?
I have built my entire platform on truth in advertising, science communication, and advocacy for ALL types of farms of all shapes and sizes. At the end of the day, any farmer can do a great job regardless of size or label and I preach this often.
One example. I was living and farming for nearly a decade in Iowa, (with my now ex boyfriend) growing GMO crops. We sprayed glyphosate one or two days an entire year at a rate of 22 oz per acre, and hadn’t tilled the soil in nearly 25 years. Regenerative, hooray! He had earned many awards and learned from the best in the industry. How do I feel when there is a chart out there claiming that because I farm conventionally, I’m doing it wrong? Science and evidence with soil testing, cover crops and more says… we aren’t.
Anyway, this is just an example. This always varies! By region, soil type, pest pressure… it’s not as simple as saying “organic good GMO bad.” Nor is it as simple as that chart. It’s much more complicated!
I don’t doubt you’re one heck of a farmer. Your website is awesome and we have a ton of common ground and common interests and goals. Your product and farming methods are strong enough to stand on to not have to put down others! Keep on kicking ass, and I’d love to continue this conversation indeed! I would… politely just encourage you to think about this, that if you took down that chart, you’d be much better off! Similar to the way organic puts down GMO… it’s the entire reason I won’t purchase anything organic! Talk about what you do well. You do a lot of things well 🙂
In closing, check out this article I wrote — my review of “Kiss the Ground.” I think it could add some discussion points or things to ponder… on how we can all work TOGETHER to push our entire industry forward to do the right thing, by politely encouraging other farmers to follow suit in these beautiful health principles without leading with points they may take offense to. Key take away here: I WOULD HATE TO SEE REGENERATIVE LOSE MOMENTUM THE SAME WAY THAT “ORGANIC” HAS. Makes sense, right?
I apologize for an insanely long email, haha. It’s just something I’m pretty passionate about and I’m sure you can understand. Look forward to hearing from you soon and continuing this important discussion. Thanks again so much!”
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OK, so that was a long email, right? But it opened an amazing opportunity for discussion. He agreed with what I said, made edits to his website, we jumped on a couple calls, and agree to hopefully meet in person at upcoming event(s). I hope this actually leads to a long-time friendship full of business opportunities and learning.
This is only one example, but there are tons of others out there that lead to successful discussions of coming together in unity. I think we can all agree that the world needs more positive outcomes, good news, and less divisiveness. In the future, if you get an email that frustrates you, take a moment to actually respond — kindly, respectfully, constructively. The positive outcome just may surprise you for the better.
Michelle Miller, the “Farm Babe,” is an internationally recognized keynote speaker, writer, and social media influencer and travels full time to advocate for agriculture. She comes from an Iowa-based row crop and livestock farming background and now resides on a timber farm in North Central Florida.