There’s a lot of bad blood between organic and conventional farmers, but leading farm image defenders say keeping that feud going just hurts all of agriculture.
“As soon as we take one part of agriculture down, we all go down,” said Cami Ryan during a Winnipeg workshop helping farmers, dieticians, agriculture industry people and foodies on how to connect with the public.
- Ryan and American Michele PaynKnoper encouraged conventional farmers not to badmouth organic farmers.
“I know what you’re going to say: ‘They throw us under the bus. They do this, they do that.’ It doesn’t mean we have to play tit-for-tat, folks,” she said.
“The reality is that it take a wide variety of farms to be able to feed all the types of people there are and to ensure their needs for different kinds of foods.”
The problem with farmer-versus-farmer squabbles is that it creates divisions that anti-farming groups can exploit.
“The activists know that they can target us and we’re very good at pointing fingers and trying to defend our own sector in the business,” said Payn-Knoper. “Is it a challenge for us to work together? Yes, it sure is.”
But she said there are so few farmers in a society that is more than 97 percent non-farmer that the challenge is to defend and promote positive views of agriculture, not disparage other kinds.
However people choose to farm or consume is for them to decide.
“It’s a choice for your family and I don’t think it’s fair for any of us to judge folks on the choice they make for their family,” said Payn-Knoper.
“I would encourage you to look at how we can work together.”