I have a strong admiration for all of our essential workers. I realize this list is long but the people who keep this country going really are heroes. Obviously, I have an extreme soft spot for our farmers. I come from a farming family and are surrounded through professional and personal relationships with those who raise animals and work the land.
It’s painful to talk to ‘my people’ right now because they are hurting.
Many farmers have been asked to dispose of their products. Some have been told to reduce what they are producing because of limits within the food chain. I’ve heard of those who directly sell to consumers being so overwhelmed they aren’t sure where to turn. Mostly, I’ve heard the voices that are usually optimistic and ‘up for the challenge’ sound so beat up, they want to quit.
“Why work so hard to lose money?”
“This is all I have ever wanted to do, why am I being punished for going after my dreams?”
“Why would you even ask how it’s going? It’s going terrible.”
“I don’t want our children to see how much we are struggling.”
“I enjoy farming. I don’t enjoy the stress it puts on me and my family.”
These are statements I have heard from farmers in the last few weeks. I work in public relations. I have had the term ‘politically correct’ thrown at me many times stating that I slanted it just right to make it sound better.
Sending the correct message on behalf of agriculture is important to me. However, I can’t make these statements sound better. I can’t sugar coat or ‘slant’ it any way to make this reality easier to digest.
I’d even go so far to say, it’s not the time to be politically correct. It is time to be authentic and real.
The reality is our farmers need our help.
We need the world to listen.
We need leaders at all levels who will take time to sit and hear the concerns of the foundation of our food supply chain.
We need our communities to rally around the ones who have supported them for in some cases – hundreds of years.
I don’t believe it’s right for the people who grow and raise our food, to be the ones eaten.
Wisconsin Farm Bureau is fighting for farmers. I know many other organizations and individuals are too. But, it’s not enough. We are a small group of people who have a big job.
You may have heard of researcher Brene Brown. She has said that you can’t have courage without vulnerability. I commend the farmers that are being honest right now and sharing their story with those around them. By showing vulnerability, you are being courageous. We need more of you to speak up and talk about the weigh you are carrying.
It’s hard to do right now but share your story and your struggles. If you need help, please reach out to the WFBF communication team.
Through the #FightingForFarmers campaign, we are hopeful that we can spread the word on the impact COVID-19 is having on farmers. We must communicate the struggles to our customers so that they can help in fighting for farmers too.
Amy Eckelberg was raised on her family’s dairy farm near New London in Waupaca County. As an active member of the Sandy Knoll 4-H club, Eckelberg grew up showing hogs and dairy animals at the Waupaca County Fair and was a New London FFA member. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay in 2012 with a degree in communication. Amy is the Director of Communications for the Wisconsin Farm Bureau and resides in DeForest with her husband and daughter.