May 13 2020 09:50 AM

If we want consumers to ask us — and not Google — about dairy farming, we must respond to their questions with patience.

“So, I hear you have a question. But please tread lightly because if it’s a question I deem as dumb, then I will make fun of you and slander your name across every social media outlet I can find so that we can all have a laugh at your expense. But please, come ask me, not Google.”

Sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it? But what if I told you that this was a common occurrence? We as a dairy community love to tote the “Ask a farmer, not Google” slogan and get so upset when people do not understand where their food comes from. However, at times, we are the quickest to slam the gavel of judgement.

On way too many occasions, a question or comment will be made on a social channel that gives the dairy community a little pause. “How could they not know the answer to that? How could they possibly think that?” we might ask. But then, instead of gracefully educating, we forcefully humiliate.

Imagine if you asked a question and within 24 hours you were now a viral sensation for a statement or question you made in ignorance about an industry that prides itself in educating and advocacy. Why would you ever ask another question? If you saw this virtual bullying, would you ask the next question?

Dairy farmers are constantly on the defense against people who lie and slander our name, wishing to destroy our integrity by labeling us as heartless, impatient beings. We know this is the farthest from the truth, yet our actions toward those outside of the dairy community doesn’t always show it.

The next time a question or statement comes across your screen, please view it with patience and understanding. The average consumer is distantly removed from the farm and has a lot of questions that need a home. The questions and statements may be shocking to the average producer, but it should not surprise you anymore. This is the new normal until we do something about it.

The normal can change, but it must start with us as a dairy community. We must be patient, kind, and understanding. We must not bully or make fun of seemingly common-sense questions because common sense is different for everyone. It’s time for change across all industries. It is time that we open our proverbial door to any questions without judgement.

The questions are going to be asked.

Whom do you want to answer them?

Tyler Ribeiro

Tyler Ribeiro is a fourth-generation dairy farmer born and raised in California. He is currently partners with his father at Rib-Arrow Dairy in Tulare where they proudly ship their milk to Land O’Lakes. Tyler is actively involved in the dairy industry, holding leadership roles in various organizations locally and across the United States.