Yesterday morning I woke up and wrote a letter. I’ll be honest. I didn’t expect anyone to actually read it.
Every morning I have the same routine. My alarm sounds and I reach for my phone and check out social media for all the latest news. (You know, because Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are the most reliable news sources.) Ellen’s #EATLESSMEAT campaign was gaining momentum. And, to fuel this campaign, many sources were sharing statements that she made a decade ago.
I’m an educator. I know the importance of using recent sources. At first, I dismissed the statements because they were something that was said a long time ago. But I kept seeing those words repeated.
I was hurt. I was disappointed. And, frankly, I was angry.
As I wrote in my letter, this year has been a year of constant knock-downs-and-get-ups for my family and thousands of other families across America. First the flood. Then the snowstorms. Then the rain…and more rain…and more rain.
This summer, I watched in tears as my husband and my father-in-law loaded up our fall-calving herd and sold them at market because we have no feed to help them survive through the winter. My father is faced with constant financial struggles as he just tries to keep the ranch afloat.
And the cattle market? Don’t even get me started. We sold a bull for $4.00 two weeks ago.
Last week I started working my fifth job to help our family financially.
We have no crops. We have no hay. And the almanac is predicting a bad winter.
But you know what we do have?
We have grit. We have hope.
One comment on my original post caught my attention. A reader asked why we didn’t make a change and do something different rather than complain. She made a valid point. I suppose we could walk away from the ranch and find jobs in an urban area. But then I think of my sons, who watch with awe as a newborn calf enters the world. I think of drinking my morning coffee and looking out my window to see deer in the field behind our house. I think of the quiet moments my husband and I spend together as we work side by side changing rake teeth in harmony. It’s not romantic. It’s not glamorous. But it’s a life I wouldn’t change for anything in the world.
I love this life. I just wish others were more aware of the struggles people in the agriculture industry face on a daily basis.
I’ve tried to read many of the comments on my original Facebook post. I have appreciated the encouraging words. But I’ve also been disappointed with comments that spew hatred and intolerance. If we truly want people to understand the agricultural industry, we have to promote it with positivity. It’s not about politics. It’s not about personal beliefs. It’s about educating others.
We all have the opportunity to be POSITIVE advocates for agriculture.
So, I urge each of you to be the faces of agriculture.
Flood social media with images of our industry. Let the public see the pictures that illustrate the REASON we REFUSE to walk away from this livelihood.
And maybe try out our own hashtags, like #EATMOREMEAT #SAVEAG #AGEDUCATE And, if you have children, urge them to join agricultural organizations such as 4-H and FFA.
Most of us have wonderful memories and stories of our experiences in agriculture. Let’s get those out there. Let’s show the world the good in agriculture.
We can make a difference.