I’m a millennial and I work in communications.
I adore all things Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat.
You’d think I would love the Internet, but lately I would list our relationship as complicated.
While on YouTube I had a video ‘suggested’ to me. The words ‘Udder Truth’ in the headline caught my eye. I stupidly clicked on ‘My Reaction to the Udder Truth’ and forced myself to watch a 14 minute-rant by a foul-mouthed young lady bashing a farm family that was featured in an informative video about the dairy industry. With a little online digging, I found that she is a hardcore vegan advocate and a ‘struggling’ actress (and I’ll leave it at that).
I decided against sharing the video with my ag friends. With 5,000-some views, it wasn’t worth giving it any more exposure. For the same reason, I decided not to post my own video to counter her arguments.
I won’t lie, sending her some fresh cow pies crossed my mind.
Ok, it more than crossed my mind. I researched it. In case you are ever in need, there is a website called poopsenders.com that will do the deed for a mere $15.95 (plus shipping and handling). You’re welcome.
Speaking of poop-selling websites, if you have never visited the PETA or HSUS Facebook pages, please do. Just like poopsenders.com, you need to see them to believe it.
“Don’t believe everything you see on the Internet” has unfortunately become a cliché instead of advice to be followed for some people. I know this to be true, having monitored some of the misinformation about food and farming that’s often spewed online. Some days I want to throw my hands up in disgust. Sometimes I question if anyone is listening to those farmers who are on social media. I wonder if the right audience is seeing their side or are farmers just talking amongst themselves?
Vegan activists excel at drowning social media with their forceful messages. Yet, a poll commissioned by a vegetarian advocacy group found that less than 0.5 percent of American adults consider themselves vegans. So while vegans’ numbers are few, they have loud (and obnoxious) activists.
An interaction I had on my family’s farm Facebook page also gives me hope. We had posted a photo of someone petting a calf during a farm tour. A friend of that person commented on the photo asking why we kept our “little calves in dog kennels so they can’t move around?”
I quickly explained that we gave them their own hutch to keep them separated from other calves when they are first born. This gives them access to their own water and grain. I noted that we find this individual attention to be the best way to care for our calves.
Care to guess what her response was? It wasn’t hateful, defensive or hurtful. It was, “Thank you for the information. I have so much respect for farmers. I would love to bring my kids for a tour someday. Just want to know more about how we get our food and how animals are treated in the process.”
This is what it is all about: an honest question, an open answer, a respectful response.
There are days that even I (a techloving millennial) have to remind myself of this interaction. I hope it serves as motivation for all of you who stick your necks out for the sake of agriculture on the Internet.
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.