We all know how detrimental it can be when agriculture misinterpretations veer towards the negative. On the flipside, is there also a danger when folks (yes, farmers included) over-romanticize this lifestyle?
There’s a lot to love and admire about rural life, including county fairs, crisp autumn harvests, small town community, and the simpler joys of life. Country music, both modern and classic, praise these kinds of feel good things. Naturally, these are the things that bleed into the outside world.
There’s a certain countryside aesthetic people seem to crave. Just scroll through Pinterest and look at all the “farmhouse” home décor ideas and “Western” fashion inspirations. Rustic country themes make the perfect backdrop for many photo shoots and weddings these days. This is all well and good — sometimes it is through odd shared interests and inspirations that producers and consumers can connect.
When society over-highlights this imagery, it contributes to the illusion agriculture is less about business and more a quaint novelty. For example, many people don’t like to hear the words “industry” and “farming” in the same sentence. How bad is this mentality? One of the best comments I ever came across read: “I would be more than happy to give half my salary to a non-greedy non-profit driven farmer.” Apparently, profitability motivations aren’t on the checklist to qualify as a “good” farmer.
I believe there’s a mythical happy little farm family who generously produces food exactly the way consumers deem fit. They must live in a place where farm work isn’t a risky business venture but a happy side-effect of living a “simple life.” Now this is the friendly farm the world wants! Just like the photos, just like the country songs … just like the little red bank barn and happily grazing livestock on the logo of the container they just bought.
Naturally when they find out that the barnyard doesn’t fit this aesthetic, they are thoroughly disappointed. No one wants to believe farm families across the nation suffer financial difficulties, horrific freak accidents, and mental health issues. This way it’s easier to buy into the anti-agriculture lies, to criticize and complain online. Misinformation can be spread without consequence.
There just aren’t many pretty Pinterest pins or trendy blog posts of placenta and blood-stained Carhartts. Not many know how the smell of manure clings to your hair and clothes at the end of each day. You hardly hear anyone bring up farming when there’s discussion of dangerous careers. The good news is, a lot of agriculturalists have picked up on this.
We are in the midst of an agri-renaissance era. There are more and more farmers coming out on social media open to addressing all aspects of farm life. They are sharing the bitter topics such as culling beloved animals and the tears that come when a neighbor loses their farm. We’ve always known why we love agriculture, what we’re learning is how to share that with the rest of the world.
Jaclyn Krymowski is a recent 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.