January 7, 2015
By Andrew Campbell, Ontario dairy farmer
Who knew so many people would want to look in on the farm?
What started as a simple idea on New Year’s Day based on other photo-a-day challenges, #farm365 on Twitter has turned into something far greater than a few pictures of corn or cows. It’s turned into a great force of farmers sticking up for themselves and consumers getting a better idea of what it takes to send food out of the driveway. I wanted to share a few highs and lows about the first week. Let’s get the lows out of the way.
I knew activism was a powerful engine. I’ve talked about it. I’ve witnessed it. But this has been a new lesson in experiencing it. With incredible media attention about the idea (see highs a little later) it appears a select few animal activists got mad. They didn’t like the positive news of a farmer sharing what really goes on. They took to their own communities demanding action among their fellow radicals. They posted to message boards that the #farm365 hashtag needed to be hijacked to show the truth behind the barn door! Unfortunately their truth usually involves photoshop, graphic images and misconceptions of what an animal needs and wants. It’s too bad that these activists from as far away as Europe and Australia have been called in to the cause. It’s unfortunate many don’t share their real identities, or realize that choice in the grocery store is good. Some can choose not to consume meat, dairy or eggs. But some choose to, and would like to see the truth behind a simple smartphone camera as we work through a day.
In the dozens of conversations with folks across the farming sector, it was clear early that engaging would go nowhere. It wasn’t worth the eventual fight because they weren’t going to listen. Instead, the focus was to talk to those interested in learning more and having legitimate, even if challenging questions.
That’s where the good starts.
One challenging question came from a woman around Toronto. She asked about veal. I told her about veal. Where the bull calves were raised, what they were fed, and how the eight to 12 month process of raising that bull calf, while ultimately destined for the plate, was cared for and treated in the best way we knew how.
Her response made me speechless.
I think I should be their (animal rights organizations) main audience: animal loving consumer!! Stop me from creating demand through, oh i dunno, education and facts. But they failed. Their facts were words backed up by other vegans. So I asked them to show me where those vegans got their information and it ended up being by …a vegetarian. Who likely got their information from some other vegetarian. And I am sure there was never an ounce of bias that got translated from one vegetarian to another. I believe fact may have been buried somewhere deep in the origin, but it is no good to me or anyone if it has been processed through someone else’s agenda. And bias.
And so they have sent me straight into the arms of what they consider to be the enemy (i.e. farmers) to search for information with substance and fact and I found goodness and love and concern of welfare, in spite of slaughter. They lose. They really lose and I hope that that will be made plain to those of you who are giving us the gift of information.
But thank you again Andrew, I’ve been buying beef and eating butter under a cloud of guilt for too long.
It made me believe again that this was exactly the type of discussion that was needed.
The arms of the farmers she ran to have been another incredible high. Farmers are compassionate, well-meaning and very proud individuals. And when one of their own was on the brink, they came running. They came running in droves. Many showed their farms in the moment, sharing their beliefs and systems and they did it with the great passion they work with every day. They are the true heroes of what #farm365 is. A look at what really goes on behind a barn door or in a field. No Photoshop, no terror, just fact. Fact that is desperately needed around the dinner table.
And then there is the media. When I announced a few days before the end of 2014 that I was going to try this out – a CBC radio host called wanting to talk. And then a web editor wanted to talk and the story went national before the ball in Times Square dropped. And then more media called and more stories ran and they have been an incredible glimpse of what I wanted this to be from the start. Simply a peek in the barn, in the moment, at what a farm does to put food on the table.
It’s has been an incredibly exciting week that I know is leading to an incredibly exciting year.
Here are links to some of the media from the week:
Lorne Brooker Show, Belleville – January 7, 2015 http://www.cjbq.com/lorne.php