When someone asks you why you care about someone or something, how do you respond? If you are like me, you quickly gather your thoughts and try to rationalize your concern for the subject in a way that others might gain some understanding and appreciation for the answer.
Sometimes the questions come at unexpected times, locations or with concerning undertones. While this can catch us off guard, social responsibility often demands that we answer the question and provide additional support on our position. As a young farmer and agriculturist, I know this is particularly true when people ask me about agriculture.
Why do you care about animals? Why are you concerned about improving corn yields? Why do you focus on profits and not environmental sustainability? These questions are reasonable, comprehendible, socially acceptable and can sometimes be very offensive.
Our approach to answer these questions can have a long-term effect on the future of agriculture. I’ve seen many farmers answer these questions with great confidence, articulation and with the support of facts and examples. I have also seen peers use hurried and un-factual rationale to try and ‘win’ support on agricultural topics. This approach is not socially responsible or ethical, especially if we use our emotions to ‘sell’ the answer or turn the conversation into an argument.
So the question remains, why do farmers care so much?
There is no single, simple or un-emotional answer to this question. Why? Because it’s a part of our DNA. Just like we care about our country, family and friends, our morals and ethics guide us to care about our animals, land, crops and our responsibility to the environment.
Answering questions about farming can be like asking questions about our American freedom. It can be very difficult to answer the right question without thinking about our answer ahead of time.
Maybe we should restate the question: how do farmers care so much?
This changes the whole context of the conversation. It allows us to focus on our moral and ethical beliefs on animal husbandry, land stewardship and social responsibility. We can use the facts and data – results of our many years of commitment to improving our practices – to substantiate our amount of concern for agriculture.
“People don’t care about how much you know until they know how much you care,” said John C. Maxwell (internationally recognized leadership expert).
My fiancée Danielle shared this viewpoint with me a few months ago when I got frustrated with the ongoing attacks on conventional agriculture. I believe she hit the nail on the head – sometimes I try to focus on explaining why I do something instead of telling people how I do it.
How do you care so much about agriculture?