I’m sorry- I’m just a farmer…
It is with great frustration at times that I hear this throw away line, a simple phrase that I believe is truly attributing hindrance to our progression as an industry. The very notion of negating what we do instantaneously prevents the discussions that we should be having, especially to an audience who may have no idea as to what a farmer actually does. But these 4 words are ruining more than this, they also frequently appear as one of our arrows in the quiver, hiding away to limit or refute our successes.
My concern primarily stems from the way we market agriculture to the public, often struggling to remove the lingering images and stereotypes planted throughout children’s books and cartoons on television. What we often fail to appreciate is that individually, we are all responsible for breaking this trend. Our attitudes, our approach and the way we conduct ourselves constantly appear on the world’s stage- we tell and promote our Australian agricultural story.
The idea of summarising our daily activities to being ‘just a farmer’ not only triggers the images of a straw-chewing, old man with weathered features, but also thwarts any dialogue that may occur and allow us to delve into the broad knowledge range we all have. In 4 words, we have but an instant stop to sharing our story, challenging the stereotypes and demanding that the questioner place some type of accompanied pity on us because of the industry we are in.
It is no longer good enough for us to continue using this dialogue, whether it is within industry or externally. We must buck this trend, rethink about the messages we want to portray and ensure that our passion resonates with people as we tell them about what actually happens on our farm.