Before you read this post, it is very important that you read Jen Christie’s post “Am I A Farmer?” Done reading it? Okay, let’s continue.
Jen is an incredible woman, and a person that I consider myself very lucky to be in the same industry as. She passionately advocates for women in ag, as well as agriculture itself and ag education. Her blog, Savvy Farmgirl, and Twitter account, @SavvyFarmgirl, are extremely popular and she uses both to educate and speak her mind about today’s world of agriculture. Her latest post, “Am I A Farmer?” received a lot of feedback after she tweeted the link. The comments were mixed, and a surprising amount of people (people involved in ag!) seemed to think that Jen has no right calling herself a farmer. I haven’t been able to ask Jen about her reaction to this, but she positively stood up for herself on Twitter and in her blog post: just because her main income doesn’t come from the farm doesn’t mean she’s not a farmer.
The largest group of people calling Jen out on “not being a farmer” seem to be other farmers, which is something that really strikes a nerve with me. If Jen isn’t considered a farmer, then who is? What right do I have to call myself a farmer in the future? I didn’t grow up on a farm – does that mean I don’t count as a farmer when I do eventually start farming? Are the only people allowed to be called farmers the ones who spend 24 hours a day on the farm? Up until the moment that I read these comments, I never knew that agriculture was so divided – the purists vs. everyone else.
There were a few comments along the same lines as each other that really made sense to me: in an industry so secluded from the rest of society, why are we trying to divide ag even further? Agriculture is something that every person in the world has a connection to, even if they don’t know it. Food is in everyone’s lives, and we should celebrate that. We should be reaching out to everyone involved in food production, not just those who work solely on their farm. “The Farmer” is more than just the old man who spends his whole day doing chores. “The Farmer” has evolved to men and women all over the country, sometimes working multiple jobs, who are able to come home and help out on the farm.
To Jen, and everyone else working off the farm who still calls themselves a farmer, be strong and proud. You are helping to produce our food, no matter how small a hand in it you may have. You will always be a farmer.
Emma — The Suburban Aggie