April 11 2018 09:15 AM

Let’s embrace our differences and strive to support one another.

I don’t actually know how to fix the dairy industry. I know that it will be a multistep process. I know that it won’t be easy, but I know exactly where we start.

If you’re part of any dairy farmer Facebook groups, you know that it doesn’t take long for the conversation to turn hostile. We fight about farm size; we fight about politics; we even fight about how to treat different illnesses. How did we get here?

Dairy farming is hard, that may be the only thing we can actually agree on. So why can’t we support each other instead of putting each other down? I have a friend who actively advocates for the dairy industry and is amazing at it. The videos that this person posts get tons of views and give the public a realistic picture of what modern dairy farms are like.

Some of the meanest comments are from fellow farmers. I get that not every farmer wants to put their farm and farming practices on social media. It can be a scary thing. But are we really in a position to alienate the farmers who are willing?

Everywhere we look, we’re being told to share our story with consumers. If you’re not willing to do that, perhaps you should be more than willing to support the farmers who do. If you have a problem with something they’ve said, maybe, instead of publicly calling them names and telling them their way of doing something is stupid, you could send them a private message. Or, I don’t know, scroll on and ignore it. How does the saying go? “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”

If we have any tiny hope of changing this industry, we need to start supporting each other. I’m not saying you can’t ever disagree with someone, but it’s not that hard to find a way to do it in a constructive, nonthreatening way.

I may not know how to fix the industry, but how can we expect to get anywhere if we can’t get along? It’s a lesson most parents are teaching their kindergartners, and apparently social media has turned us all back into toddlers. Maybe the saying should go more like this: “If you don’t have anything nice to type, don’t hit send.”

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.