Sometimes stereotypes can really hurt.
No matter what you do in life, others are going to view it through their own lens. I'm guilty of it myself at times when it comes to other hobbies and occupations. We all do it. We all stereotype.
Agriculture has become so far disconnected with today's society that a lot of kids and even some adults have no clue where their food comes from. All they have left are the stereotypes. You know, like the ones Pete Holmes has so greatly shared in his skit blaming farmers for day-light savings time.
Farming and ranching are two occupations that fall greatly as stereotype victims to society. Yes, there are some farmers out there that are lazy, only do it for the money, turn in false records to their tax accountants, break the laws and rules, trash the land and abuse animals. They ruin the good name of an honest, hard working farmer. You're going to have that in every occupation. You're also going to have farmers with frugal life styles and farmers that live high off the hog. No pun intended. But you also see that in other industries as well. I know some dentists that live like paupers!
There's going to be that dishonest doctor that tells a patient they have a disease when they really don't. You'll have that police officer who takes advantage of his power. There's a lot of dishonest politicians out there getting in trouble for things in which they should know better. A lot of these occupations take the wrath of those who have abused the system but not all doctors, police officers and politicians are bad people. In fact, I happen to personally know wonderful people in all three of those fields.
I once worked with a very sour person that was constantly and blatantly making statements about farmers and money to my face. He was going to go out and start a farm so he could be "rich." I kept telling him, you're more than welcome to go out and do whatever you put your mind to but good luck.
As John F. Kennedy once said,
Farming can be decent money, yes, but it takes a long, long time to get there unless you were born into a huge operation. Even then, it takes a good farmer and a good man or woman to take care of something their ancestors started. It's all about choices and decisions and every one you make affects your future. There is a lot at risk. And there are a lot of things you can't control like the weather and the economy.
It's an occupation, hobby and lifestyle all rolled into one. There are times it can be hard. There are times it can be fun. You're going to have your good years and your bad years. Some years you break even, others you bank. You may know you're working, other's may think you're just out there playing and a lot of people think all farmers do is make money make money make money, spend spend spend, get, get, get. That's just how it's always going to be but it's up to us to educate society on what we really do and what we are really passionate about.
Farming has a different meaning to everyone young and old, man and woman, city and country. There's more to it than a tractor and a pair of cowboy boots.
I guess ultimately we and our families are the only ones that matter but at the same time, we want our consumers to understand and appreciate all that we do. It's up to us as farmers to educate and it's up to consumers to get educated!
We should be thankful for stereotypes because they give us an opportunity to teach and reach out! If it weren't for stereotypes, there wouldn't be a need for "AGvocates" and reaching out to consumers. One of the best things about being a farmer is sharing with others what it is we do!