I’ve been talking to a few people recently about the impact that social media is having on today’s agriculture. It can be a very interesting topic, and is one that frequents our daily lives: social media and its impacts on nearly EVERYTHING we do. Some people can’t eat a meal without sharing it to social media. This rampant over-sharing, and coincidentally the idea that people want to know what you’re doing at every waking moment has changed not just society as a whole, but also agriculture as we know it.
It used to be that farmers kept mixed herds, grew many varieties of plants, and were closely tied into their surrounding communities. Today’s agriculture is much more of a monoculture, and many facets of today’s ag are run by large monopolies that prefer large profits over viable practices. This has ruffled many feathers, and social media has brought about awareness of these issues.
What social media has also done, however, is over-exaggerated and unfortunately, spread many false claims and ideas regarding today’s ag. There has also been a spur in veganism and vegetarianism, which some have linked to social media and the false information that frequently are spread through it.
For example, the dairy industry is currently being hit, HARD, by ever falling milk prices. In support of family owned farms, folks should be supporting the dairy industry and attempt to consume more dairy products than they are. Dairy is a great source of calories, provides a nourishing food source, and contains many healthful fats and proteins. However, much of the Facebook propaganda that exists today would have you believe that our milk supply is riddled with hormones, “pus,” and antibiotics. Anyone with any experience in the dairy industry knows that sick cows are not milked into the primary supply, and that any milk that does not pass strict tests will be discarded.
It is now easier than ever to spread propaganda, along with factual information, on to interested or concerned parties. The issue falls with the fact that most people on social media do not fact check before they post information, and much of the information spread has no merit or factual evidence. Many “memes”, such as the one below, were created by people who have no experience with agriculture, but want to spread their ideas or messages to blind followers.
One potential benefit, however, of social media on today’s ag is that, I believe, it has spurred the push towards what I call “tiny ag.” People are realizing that large mono-cultural farms are unhealthy and inhumane, and it is causing some people to start to look at what they are eating. More people are getting chickens, more people are shopping local, more people are taking a stand. I feel that this aspect of social media is HIGHLY beneficial for folks today. When someone sees the successes of one other “tiny ag” enthusiast, it may persuade them to give it a try. This is one of the reasons that I am so passionate about my blog and my farm’s social media. I strive to only provide factual, beneficial information to my readers. I write my own, real, personal stories of my experiences, good or bad, so that others can learn and be inspired.
What I do not want to see happen through social media is the complete defamation of all conventional farmers. Plain and simple, small ag, tiny ag, and family farms can NOT feed our worldly population. We require big ag. What can and should be done is greater support for local ag – support your local dairy farmer, support your local chicken and hog and hay farmers. Do not spread slander that may or may not be true. Fact check what you post.
Finally, push the need to raise agricultural payouts as well as agricultural diversity. Mono-cultures are NOT sustainable, it has been proven that varieties of species make for a much healthier ecosystem. Farmers can not stray from a mono-culture system without higher payouts and increased support from their communities. If you have further interest in these issues, I highly recommend watching Rotten on Netflix. It is a very unbiased series that shows the ups and downs of today’s ag system. Do your research, and hug a farmer.