Farmers feed your family, then take a second job to feed their own. It’s a sad but true reality for those trying to make it in arguably the most noble of professions, as over 70% of young farmers work more than 40 hours a week off-farm to support their operations.
“When did feeding the world become a pastime?” said Sarah Wray, a board member with the FarmOn Foundation. “Nobody would expect a restaurant owner to run his establishment, not even break even and then take a second job in the oilfield just to make ends meet for his family. But this is exactly what is being expected of farmers.”
No more. Farmers feed this entire planet, and it’s time the world paid attention! The FarmOn Foundation is calling on young farmers to stand up, tell their stories and show people their own farming reality through the Farm Voices project. On April 22, Earth Day, the organization is rallying farmers to use the power of social media and post a photo and a thought to Facebook, Instagram and/or Twitter about their experience as a farmer, attaching the hashtag #FARMVOICES.
“Young people have been at the forefront of every great social movement in history,” noted Wray. “The power of social media means that we now have the opportunity to effectively and powerfully speak for our own industry, directly to the audience we’re trying to engage.”
Too often, the agriculture industry has sat back and allowed others to have a more powerful voice with the public, rather than stepping up and telling their own story in a way that will truly speak to others. With the launch of Farm Voices, FarmOn hopes to mobilize a movement led by young farmers to create change and awareness with consumers.
“Currently, 80% of the content found online about agriculture is not favourable,” said Wray. “That’s ridiculous and has a lot to do with the fact that farmers are not speaking up and being vocal about the industry they love. That has to change.”
While farmers have proven amazing stewards of the land, they have left the story of their industry for others to tell. But it’s truly critical for sustainability and success that this trend does not continue.
“I don’t know about other farmers out there, but I’m sick and tired of groups like PETA trying to tell my story,” said Wray. “We take pride in our operations and the handling of our livestock, treating them with the utmost respect and care. It’s our turn. The world needs to hear the reality of the family farm.”
The FarmOn Foundation aims to inspire young farmers to take the actions necessary to build successful farm businesses, healthy rural communities and a thriving agricultural industry. The Farm Masters project is another initiative of the FarmOn Foundation and combines innovative technology with traditional forms of learning and support, offering members an opportunity to participate in facilitated learning experiences. We’re bringin’ farming back!
Farm Masters is a community of social learning geared towards serving the needs of young farmers, equipping them with the tools, knowledge and skills needed to ensure business success. Supporters include the Rural Alberta Development Fund, Community Futures (East Parkland) and the Bashaw Adult Learning Council
For more information about the FarmOn Foundation, Farm Voices and Farm Masters, and how you can become involved, visit http://www.farmon.com.