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Column: Bloggers are Brave Souls

Cut to the Chase

An editorial column from the Missouri Farm Bureau Federation

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Bloggers are Brave Souls

By Rebecca French Smith

You have a voice in the world’s conversation, just pick a topic. Social media has opened up what was once an information stream dominated by media to a world where anyone can be a journalist. As a result, many media outlets are redefining what it means to tell the day’s news. At the same time, those outside of journalism — governments, companies, organizations, citizen bloggers — are telling their stories through these newer digital avenues. The crux in this information competition is figuring out who and what to believe.

Do you automatically believe news you read or see based on its source anymore? Do you choose to believe that which most closely aligns with what you already accept to be true? Or, do you keep an open mind and wait for more information?

The newest disseminators of news, bloggers, are brave souls. Some may only have family that visit their site and read what they have to say; others have thousands of followers who take their word as gospel. Some privately dream that their little endeavor reaches beyond their hopes for it and are shocked when it actually does. While others are content with simply having a creative outlet, no matter who reads it.

Bloggers come from all directions and disciplines. Farmers blog. In every corner of Missouri, row crop farmers, pig farmers, cattle ranchers and more document life and experiences in raising our food, fiber and fuel. We have much in common, but there is also much to be learned when they share about their farms and their expertise.

Recently, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) released a video of a dairy farm in North Carolina. Along with others, a prominent blogger, Dairy Carrie, took issue with the video. She shared her observations from the video and what she, as a dairy farmer, knows to be true based on what she saw. It conflicted with what PETA wanted viewers to believe. At the end of the day, authorities were called to the dairy. They inspected and found PETA’s accusations of animal cruelty unfounded.

It is unfortunate that the beginning of this story hit the public like a bombshell of “truth,” and the end — the findings of the animal control authorities, PETA’s retraction about a grocery store chain they mentioned in the video, the reality of how that diary is operated — was missed by much of the original audience. In the meantime, as Dairy Carrie put it, “Dairy farmers like myself get an undeserved black eye and now have a huge hill to climb to get the correct information out.”

The vast majority of farmers and ranchers aspire to farm to the highest of standards and do so professionally. When you see a video or read a news article about farming that has you believing the worst about a farmer, seek out those who live that life and get the whole story. You might find they would be the first to throw the bad actor under the proverbial bus.


(Rebecca French Smith, of Columbia, Mo. is a multimedia specialist for the Missouri Farm Bureau, the state’s largest farm organization.)