The dangers of putting everyone in the same basket.

I have been writing my two blogs for over 12 months now and have yet to have anyone send me a comment that would cause me offence. Now it would be highly unlikely that anyone would take umbrage at the activities of Art4Agriculture. But there is the chance that like the divine Milk Maid Marian this blog may attract the “haters” every now and then. The “haters” in this case being those extremist  vegans who think all livestock farmers are the right hand of the devil and its their right of passage to tell you so at every opportunity.

Now apparently the “haters” from both sides have been active on twitter this week which has prompted these excellent posts from Alison Fairleigh and Milk Marian Marian ( note the comment by @JohnKeily1)

Lets not forget the world is full of bizarre people and a couple of things that have happened to me in the last 48hours have highlighted this very strongly.

Just check this out I will guarantee it will have you shaking your head as well. Today I was out and about like last Sunday walking the gorgeous Kiama Coastline this time from Bombo beach to Minnamurra with my trusty camera to add to my weight load . Along the way we spotted this painted on the front of a house.

Tree Vandal  (2) 

Obviously some extremist  “nature lover” was very unhappy that the occupants of this house had done something?? to a tree in their front yard. Also in front of this house was this little car

Tree Vandal  (1) 

It too had fallen victim to the wrath of the “nature lover”. Whilst I was taking this photo the mother of the owner of the car approached me and I got the real story. This little car belongs to her daughter who just happened to be staying with friends next door and had nothing to do with the occupants of the house her car was parked in front of. Well “nature lover” who is the real vandal here?.

After our walk we ventured down to the Kiama Markets. Can there be anywhere more beautiful to hold markets? Kiama Markets

You can get 2 bunches of roses for $10, buy extraordinary eclectic pieces made out of spoons and all the gorgeous produce you could think of from the South Coast as well as enjoy food cooked on the biggest barbeque I had ever seen.


Well I was walking along minding my own business, taking lots of pictures with my beloved camera.


And out of no where this man invades my personal space and starts haranguing me about what an abomination cameras are. According to him it is an absolute to disgrace to reduce the world to “rectangles”. Well I did engage him for just a moment sharing with him how much pleasure its gives me to be able to record my journey on my camera. But he wasn’t listening and continued to rabbit on in a very loud voice and I walked away.

Now what does all this have to do with animal welfare and vegan extremists you ask. Well yesterday afternoon I had a call from a friend who told me something that really distressed me. Apparently a local farmer parked his ute in the main street of my gorgeous little village of Jamberoo in front of the newsagency and remained there for a least twenty minutes. Now here comes the appalling bit. On the back of his ute he had a dead cow just lying there for all the world to see little kids included. Just what was he thinking you ask and just how much damage was he doing to the reputation of our other local farmers I cant even begin to think

As I said the world is made up of bizarre people who do just don’t think before they act. All I ask vegan extremists is that you don’t lump all livestock farmers into the one basket. Like 99% of the people in this world, most livestock farmers are good, caring, sensitive people with values and it hurts when you attack us.

As for the farmers who feel the need to fight back like Alison says

Some of the best advocates for Australian agriculture and farmers are people living in cities. You don’t have to be a farmer to “get it”. Give credit where it is due and don’t lump all “city people” into the same basket.

and this sage advice from the US

Be proactive, not reactive.

It’s not about engaging activist crazies in fire fights where everyone comes back bloodied. We can reduce their clamour by building a wall of trust with our customers. It’s as simple as talking with them on an ongoing basis, joining them in conversations about food and addressing their concerns.

• Build bridges with people influential in the food community, who drive opinions and are willing to engage in a conversation about food.
• Meet customers on their own turf and invite them to ours. Answer all concerns they have about food, whether the issues seem real to us or not.
• Talk about our desire to continually improve sustainability, quality and safety on the farm.
• Tell your personal story about how you use fewer resources to produce more, and let them know how you care for your land and animals.
• Be transparent. It builds trust. Share values with your customers.

To move public opinion… to counter the activists… “We must open our doors–and maybe more importantly, open our minds–to consumers and their perspectives about food and agriculture,”

as Marian also rightly says

The ethics of food is so complex. Vegans following a conscientious diet are told they are inadvertently starving Peruvians, causing deforestation and even eating with blood on their vegetarian hands. It’s not easy being green and I don’t blame vegans for being so passionate about their choice. 

I personally have seen my vegetarian friends attacked by perfect strangers asking for justification of the choices they have made. Like my gorgeous vegetarian friends I am doing my best to walk away from the battles I cant win.


Come on everyone its time to fight the good fight

Author: Lynne Strong

I am a 6th generation farmer who loves surrounding myself with optimistic, courageous people who believe in inclusion, diversity and equality and embrace the power of collaboration. I am the founder of Picture You in Agriculture. Our team design and deliver programs that inspire pride in Australian agriculture and support young people to thrive in business and life

6 thoughts on “The dangers of putting everyone in the same basket.”

  1. Someone on twitter posted today that an American mate had said all country Australians all giving and warm hearted and all city Australians are loud and arrogant. Both sides want to be careful of not pigeon holing each other. I live in a city and hand milk cows every day. I try and get people to understand a small amount of what a farmer has to do to get food to their plate all the time.

    But it makes my blood boil to see farmers dismiss all city people as fools who just don’t get it. Those people are the ones that buy the produce that pays the bills, like it or not and deserve a bit more respect. If farmers only ever sold locally to rural communities they’d go broke pretty quickly. We should stop alienating each other and find some common ground.

    1. Beeso, kudos to you for finding out first hand what it takes to care for animals AND eat!

      I agree with everything you’ve said. I think what frustrates many farmers is that some incredibly vocal city dwellers are very quick to leap to judgement about farming practices, equipped with little more information than what they’ve heard on the news.

      Farmers have long been stereotyped as warm and giving empty-headed red necks. The difference is that now, in the wake of the LE debate, a minority of noisy city dwellers feel free to call farmers all sorts of nasty names, too – often all based on what they’ve read on animal activist web sites. Sometimes they even cite material from overseas, which has no relevance to Australian farming at times. In those circumstances, I think it’s fair enough to question the credibility and expertise of your critic but certainly not while denigrating the millions of Aussies who live in the cities!

      The stereotyping of city-dwellers as having “no idea” has been around for a long time too but, ironically, few city dwellers have ever been connected enough with the bush to be confronted with it.

      Good manners and respect all round would go a long way.

      1. Yes indeed it is time for more tolerance. To para-phrase our US friend (IN MY POST). “To move public opinion…TO NOT ONLY COUNTER THE ACTIVISTS AND most importantly to BUILD RELATIONSHIPS WITH OUR CUSTOMERS … “We must open our doors–and maybe more importantly, open our minds–to consumers and their perspectives about food and agriculture,”

  2. Nice piece, but I take issue with a few things.

    1. Do you really have to refer to vegans as “extremists”?
    2. The whole quinoa thing: vegans don’t hold the monopoly of quinoa consumption–hipsters do (hehe).
    3. There are some odd people out there that do their cause wrong but undertaking problematic protests–on this I think we find a common ground.

    I’m a vegan. I’m outspoken. I don’t engage in violent or vulgar protests. I do think what you do is wrong. I will tell you why I think it is wrong on robust, ethical grounds. I do expect the same back–rather than ad hominen attacks. I do respect that you ultimately have a choice–for what I oppose isn’t illegal rather, unjust. I do think there needs to be intellectual respect. I do hope you agree.

    1. Hi HTTN
      I had hoped my article made it clear I was referring to the extremists among them. I have now reread my article and I cant see where I have said all vegans as extremists just as I haven’t referred to all nature lovers as extremists As I said to the very interesting gentlemen who took umbrage at my photography hobby everyone is entitled to an opinion I just don’t necessarily share it. What it appears you and I share is being loud and proud of who we are and what we do. My name is Lynne its nice to meet you HTTN

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