Monday, February 6, 2012

Who speaks for farmers?

My license to speak?

One of the things I've been thinking about for the last couple of days is a comment that was made in the natures harmony discussion.

"who are you to talk about me?  Just because you and I own pigs?"

What's funny about this is that it's meant to disqualify me from commenting, but it got me to think about who does talk about farming anymore.
Most of the information that is out there on agriculture, and farming, particularly small farming, is written by people who aren't farmers.  In fact, own no livestock, till no ground, and have a background that is pretty far from farming. 

A simple example of that is Micheal Pollan, who appears to be as near a spokesperson of the small farm/local food movement as we've got.  He talks quite a bit about meat, and animal production and how much you should eat, but his background is journalism, and his job is public speaking and writing, and he doesnt' even have a garden at his house. 

Who speaks for farming isn't determined by what they raise, or what they do, but really, just that they speak.  So I don't need to own a pig to comment on something, or to be justified in thinking about it.

  Why don't you speak for farming, too?

  write an essay about food
  or farming
  or comment on a discussion
  or find a local farmer and buy something from them, because that's speech, too. 

That's all.


sheila said...

Supreme Court says money and speech are they same and can't be restricted.... and corporations are people too! As a displaced ex dairy farmer (Reagan years killed all the family farms in my area) I feel I can talk shit with the best of them.

Bill Gauch said...

If I had to know about something in order to talk about it, I would say nothing at all. In fact, I think the least informed people are the ones who know something about something. Better not to know anything about anything. :)

Seriously, though, credentials are essential in this day of anonymous posting and commenting. I think credentials are pretty obvious with most "farm" blogs. Someone goes into "farming" and starts posting about buying in my news feed cows as an auction barn or putting in their order for 200 chickens and not really knowing what to expect. Inevitably, they post about liquidating their animals within a year or two. Lots of times, they talk about getting sheep or goats or possibly wholly impractical things like llamas. Then, they talk about scaling back to the point where they have a dozen chickens and that's it.

If a blog is run by an experienced farmer, it generally starts in the middle of ongoing farming operations. If it's a new farm with an owner who has any hope of success, it starts with a discussion of some sort of business plan, cost analysis, market plans, etc.

Bruce King said...

Sheila: what's funny is that when I look at the posts that people read (look at the website statistics) it's the ones where I confess that I had no idea what I was doing, or made a mistake, that get the most reads.

Ignorance is popular, I guess.

Bruce King said...

Bill: I've noticed that, too. Many farm blogs start out with a bunch of animals, and then revert to something much much smaller. I've gone the other way; I started pretty small and have been getting bigger over the last few years.

A business plan, and a spreadsheet are a good start for a farm that's going to be a business, or that you hope to make a living off of. Because it >is< a business, and follows the normal business rules. Like you have to have customers. And stuff doesn't work out sometimes.

Natures harmony started with turkeys and chickens and sheep and cows and rabbits and right now has...cows? Yea, thats the usual progression.