Farmers Speak Up — Perspectives on the #farm365 Activist Backlash

What started out as a commitment to agvocacy has quickly turned into a social media frenzy of a very nasty kind — animal rights activists have highjacked the #farm365 hashtag and are posting memes, pro-vegan slogans and calling out farmers as, well, murderers.

Of course, there’s also a hefty dose of other farmers following Andrew Campbell’s lead on the #farm365 project, and posting real world images of what it’s like to live and work on a farm. Still, any livestock producer would have to be a stone not to be irritated, angered, hurt or upset by the activists’ language and actions on Twitter. There’s a real danger of those extremist views taking over the hashtag feed and drowning out this incredible opportunity for consumers to openly ask questions directly of farmers.

Undaunted as we knew they would be, several farmers, Campbell included, have handled the challenge well, and a few blog posts have gone up in response to the Twitterstorm that has ensued. Read on for some surprisingly positive interactions that have occurred and for advice and discussion on how to react when faced with harsh and opposite views to your own. (Please let us know if you’ve found other helpful blog posts or links that we could add here.)

Andrew Campbell’s response: The highs and lows of week one on #farm365

Jen Christie’s take: The Power of Words — Use them Wisely

Brent Royce’s post: Stay Positive When Responding to Critics on Social Media

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Lyndsey Smith

Lyndsey Smith is a field editor for RealAgriculture. A self-proclaimed agnerd, Lyndsey is passionate about all things farming but is especially thrilled by agronomy and livestock production.

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9 Comments

Hilarie Petersen

I shared this on Ask the Farmers IG account after someone was attacking us:
anaccidentalfarmwife
@anaccidentalfarmwife
“@erinnicolehl Thanks for sharing your background. I know there are parts of the whole food chain that cause philisophycal dismay. I think its a matter of a difference of opinion. We wouldn’t continue what we are doing if we didn’t think it was ethical, and I know you see it as unethical. There is much research on both side of the fence. We don’t try to tell people to eat meat and that they are unethical if they don’t, though. SO we truly do just work our guts out in fields in which we do personally do a lot of research and try to minimize any pain or suffering for the animals in our care. Its not unlike the care we take for our own children. Just sharing our perspective. YEs you can disagree, but coming to anyones page and shouting that they are wrong and unethical doesn’t start any type of conversation. If you would like to know from the 100s of farmers on the group- how we each handle our livestock and how we believe it IS ethical and sustainable- I think that would be productive. So let us know- what questions do you have. at that point you can offer counter arguments and at the end of the day we can possibly part as friends with a disagreement, but not ones where we have to hate or insult one another. It seems you enjoy farming as well. We run a vegetable farm as well- thats awesome- a common background. Please talk to us, ask us if the dairy people follow the same or similar protocols to the one you saw. Lets all learn from it. I’m excited to learn from your perspective as well. Thanks”

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Hilarie Petersen

Sadly our Facebook page has been SLAMMED with hate comments. We’re being called murderers and rapists. And we are produce farmers!

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Lori Wheeler

Funny how animal activists and vegans are called “extremist” when I’d say killing an animal to satisfy your greed for taste and money is more extreme! Humans do not need to consume the flesh (or by-products) of an animal to survive and actually are more healthy on a plant based diet. Also like Dr Caldwell Esselstyn says “extreme is slicing open a human’s chest to perform open heart surgery, now that’s extreme”. Yes all those animal products can lead to a very unhealthy person needing “extreme” medical intervention!
The Milk Marketing Board has brainwashed people into thinking that we need the milk of another species after being weaned from the human milk that we do need, which is just ridiculous! I suggest doing some real scientific nutritional research and you will see that drinking cow’s milk is very unhealthy and that the countries that consume the most dairy are the ones with the most disease, bone fractures and osteoporosis!

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Melissa Rogers

It is shameful that Animal Rights Activists and Vegans are being portrayed, in the media, by the farmers at #farm 365 as hurtful and harsh, to use the kinder terms. I’m certain that the animals would say that is the very least we could do for them.
I see the word ethical used a lot. Please tell me what is ethical about murder? I don’t and can’t understand how you can put those two words together and make that okay in your head. If someone murders a member of your family ethically….that just doesn’t come out right does it?

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Lyndsey Smith

While much of the Twitter debate around #farm365 is “us vs. them” and that’s as far as it goes, there have been threats of violence and memes to that effect towards farmers. This is not OK, incredibly serious and not about to be taken lightly. If, as you say, animals are to be seen as equal to humans, how is threatening violence the answer to any of this?

Laura Jones

‘Threats of violence’ as opposed to actual violence against animals. I know which is worse.

Vegan Advocate

Dear Lyndsey,

I agree wholeheartedly that threats of violence or even any kind of name-calling are not the way to go. It hurts me when fellow vegan are so hurt and frustrated that they resort to such behaviour.

That being said, I’ve seen a lot of name-calling by vegans, but hardly any threats. On the other hand, a farmer has impersonated two vegans using their profile pics to tweet vulgar and disrepectful messages, and a significant number of farmers have issued threats of rape or left sexual/vulgar comments in addition to name-calling.

Goes to show humans will be humans, some kind, some less so. Especially when shielded by the impersonality of the internet.

Behaviour like that is just plain wrong, harmful and unnecessary. That goes for both sides. I sincerely hope things will settle down and the tone will get better over time. Luckily, I’ve also seen – and had – a number of good conversations with farmers. So I’m trying to focus on that and lead by example.

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