The small world of ag: U.S. ag secretary tweets t-shirt photo quoting Sask. dairy farmer

(@SecretarySonny, Twitter)

It’s funny how word travels in today’s social media world. Someone shares a photo or message on Twitter or Facebook and it can be instantly seen around the world. If shared publicly, you never know who’s going to see or react to what you posted.

Take, for example, this tweet by U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue on Tuesday:

The quote on the t-shirt Perdue is holding was originally tweeted by Saskatchewan dairy farmer Cam Houle on a Sunday night in April 2016. It has since been shared thousands of times in tweets and Facebook posts, incorporated into memes, and evidently printed onto t-shirts. If there’s an #AgTwitter Hall of Fame for tweets, it’s a first-ballot entry.

“I think it’s neat that this tweet is still kicking around and it’s fun to see how far it’s reached around the ag community,” says Houle.

Certainly not every tweet resonates like his, but it shows how far a message can travel in today’s world (and tomorrow’s world, given Obama was still in the White House with Tom Vilsack as ag secretary at the time.)

Shortly after the tweet went viral, Houle wrote this column on RealAgriculture explaining the story behind it, admitting that he was uneasy with the message it conveyed.

As (the tweet) got more and more likes and shares on Twitter, and Facebook and even Instagram, I thought ‘Good, share me. Share my tweet to show the world how it feels to do a noble service for ungrateful people and then be publicly humiliated for it, because it’s so hard.’

It is embarrassing even to write that now, but that’s how I felt.

It wasn’t my tweet they were liking. It was the idea that WE farmers are under appreciated, and WE deserved better.

How foolish. If we are lucky, and many of us are, we get to choose how we spend our time and lives to support ourselves and our families. We get to focus on our craft and happily remain ignorant of every other human ordeal that others have to live through on a daily basis in order for our world to go ‘round.

— Cam Houle, April 2016

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Kelvin Heppner

Kelvin Heppner is a field editor and radio host for RealAgriculture and RealAg Radio. He's been reporting on agriculture on the prairies and across Canada since 2008(ish). He farms with his family near Altona, Manitoba, and is on Twitter at @realag_kelvin. @realag_kelvin

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