Anti-Farm activists and the subtle use of language

5/20/2016This post from Western Growers Association in California, talking about a journalist-activist from the Los Angeles Times, is reminiscent of the anti-farm activists strategies we face here in Washington state. The growers object to columnist George Skelton writing in the Times and insisting on using the term “corporate agriculture.”

That’s what our critic at the Western Environmental Law Center and associated environmental groups are doing, notably on the Whatsupstream campaign. Note the use of the term “Industrial dairies” or “industrial agriculture.” This is clearly intended to create a mental image of huge farms with fat cat owners running the machinery of creating farm produce including treating their animals like machines.

Farming isn’t like that. There are big farms, yes, and lots of small farms. But in Washington state big and small are almost 100% family owned and run, many for multiple generations. Farmers understand better than ever that care of the land and care of their animals is essential to be able to pass the farm on to the next generation which is the goal of most farmers we know.

I’m certain that our critics do not like us insisting on using the term “family farmers.” At least we have the facts behind us: our farms are owned by our state’s farm families. To survive, they adopt efficient methods to produce their products, and agriculture over all is certainly a significant industry with a very large impact on our state’s economy, jobs and particularly our local communities where most farms are found. But using the term “industrial agriculture” is a propaganda technique and needs to be recognized as such.