March 23 2022 08:00 AM

Farmer is not a dirty word.

Hang on a second. I thought I put it somewhere around here . . . Oh! There it is. Had to get my soapbox out before I started this one. I feel the need to make a sweeping declaration that I think others will agree with, so here it goes.

I’m a farmer, not a producer.

When I first started sharing about our farm online, I felt like I needed to look more professional. I mean, no one wanted to watch my silly videos or hear about how much I love gummy bears, right? I used big words and professional language and all the facts and figures. I was afraid that if I was myself, no one would listen to me. I was wrong. The day I stopped trying to look like I knew what I was doing and just started being me was the day I started to see some success on social media. Why do I feel like someone is trying to make farmers look more professional?

I don’t want to be a producer. I don’t want to feel like I need to put on a suit to walk out the door to milk cows. Honestly, when companies, experts, and organizations label me as a producer, it makes me feel less than. It makes me feel like they don’t think being a farmer is good enough, so they had to label me as something better.

So let me just put this out there. Yes, most days I look like I’m homeless. Yes, I spend more time smelling like manure than not smelling like manure. Have I ever done errands in the middle of the day only to discover iodine on my face in the rearview mirror after having already been in three different stores? Yes, I have, more than once. But I’m a farmer. When I walk up to someone new and I tell them I’m a farmer, there’s an instant flash of recognition. If I were to say I’m a “producer,” I’d imagine there’d be a little confusion and a lot of questions.

Look, I don’t know who started this, but half of the name tags I wear at conventions and meetings read, “Jessica Peters, Producer” and I’m tired of it. Most people still trust farmers, so why aren’t we leaning into that? Just because of the job is dirty, doesn’t mean the word has to be.

I’m Jessica Peters and I’m a farmer. And proud to be one.

Jessica Peters

The author dairies in partnership with her parents and brother at Spruce Row Farm in Pennsylvania. Jessica is a graduate of Pennsylvania State University, and since 2015, she has been active in promoting dairy in her local community. You can find her and her 250 Jersey cows on Facebook at Spruce Row Dairy or on Instagram at @seejessfarm.