There are three types of neighbors on the farm: those that are super excited to see the tractors working, those that don’t care, and those that just get mad.
The first group is usually reserved to little children or new transplants to the country. The second group is mostly comprised of the people who have lived in the country all their lives. The last group tends to be the people that spend a little too much time on social media.
Dad recently had a run in with a woman solidly in the last group.
We’ll call her Becky. Becky lives with her husband on the backside of some farmland we lease. Every time we are out in that field, the pair settle themselves on the back deck with crossed arms and frowns. They watch everything we do in that field and they’re always angry about it.
Dad was out spraying soybeans. Becky was on her deck wearing a nightgown. When she saw dad, she assumed the usual position; arms crossed and a pout face. As dad went across the field he noticed Becky walking across her backyard toward the edge of the crop. He tried to ignore her, but she eventually started waving her arms attempting to flag him over. Perhaps he’s a masochist, but he stopped the sprayer and walked over to her.
The following is an abbreviated version of the dialogue that ensued:
Becky: What are you spraying?
Becky: [eye roll] I know that. What are you spraying the soybeans with?
Becky: Oh my God! Seriously?! That stuff is terrible!
Dad: Not really. It’s a pretty benign, targeted herbicide that works really effectively on our GMO crops.
Becky: Well, you killed our entire lawn, bushes, and all of our trees the last time you sprayed.
Dad: Ma’am, I highly doubt that. I only spray when it isn’t windy and keep the boom down close to the ground. Nor do I get close enough to your property for that to happen.
Becky: Then how did all of the plants in our yard die?
Dad: I have no idea. They probably had some type of disease. I guarantee it wasn’t from the Round-Up. I spray this same stuff on the fields around my home and we still have a lawn, bushes, and trees.
Becky: You know, Round-Up is a carcinogen.
Dad: Ma’am, no it isn’t. It’s actually a very safe product, which has been thoroughly tested.
Becky: You, sir, need to get online and educate yourself!
Dad: Ok. I’m going to get back to work now.
Becky: Well, I have pictures of you out here spraying!
Dad: Great. I hope you got my good side!
Friends, I only wish I had been a fly buzzing around to see the conversation in person. I’m actually quite impressed that my dad managed to keep his cool so well. Perhaps he thought it was somewhat amusing.
Unfortunately, there really isn’t anything funny about the situation. Becky obviously visited too many websites shouting about the horrors of GMOs and Round-Up. While I’m disappointed that she believes the steady diet of lies that have been fed to her, I’m angry that those peddling that garbage still get away with it.
You know, it wasn’t so long ago that anti-GMO eco-terrorists blew up a Monsanto facility. While no one was thankfully injured, the research taking place inside–ironically, none of which had anything to do with GMOs–was completed destroyed. We’ve seen these types of demonstrations coming from environmentalist groups around the world.
But the anger and fear being stoked isn’t just happening in far away countries. It’s happening right here in our hometowns. Our neighbors see us, as farmers, as the enemy. They see the crops we’re growing and the way we’re growing them as a threat. It’s one thing when these people use their purchases at the grocery store to vocalize their displeasure. It’s completely different when they track us down in the field and start yelling at us.
For the record, Becky was wrong. The Round-Up we sprayed on the farm next door didn’t kill her lawn, bushes, and trees. As dad told her, he only sprays when there is no wind. He keeps the boom close to the ground. He doesn’t spray over the edges of the field. We live in an area with lots of fruit and vegetables growers, including wine grapes, that are sometimes–literally— feet away from our corn and soybeans. Dad is extremely careful when he sprays. Becky’s lawn isn’t worth that much, but those grape vines definitely are worth a lot. We don’t take chances.
My only advice to someone encountering their own Becky is to keep your cool. Some people have made up their minds before we even jump off the tractor.
Jan williams says
There is no way to convince the Beckys that they are uninformed idiots.
Greg Nieman says
It is sad that people are so misinformed.
RoundUp is probably the safest herbicide ever developed.
GMO crops that allow for no-till farming have saved millions of tons of topsoil from being eroded into streams and rivers.
We farm. A woman, such as Becky, accused my husband of causing her daughter (who was born with physical and mental disabilities) by applying farm pesticides/herbicides, etc.
He told her we lived in the middle of a field with 2 small children and did she think he would apply anything that would be harmful to his own family?
She still believes to this day that her daughters physical and mental birth problems are a direct result of a farmer.
In Papua many locals attribute illness to sorcery.
Keith Duhaime says
Maybe someone should suggest Becky apply a little dihyhydrogen monoxide to her lawn and garden once in a while. It might be a bit healthier then.
My dad once found GMO protesters at the field he was about to spray. He drove on by as instructed and avoid the confrontation…little did the protesters know….he had gone round and used another gate. He had sprayed three quarters of the field before they realised!!
Bear Jay says
I have also ran across some very vocal and very misinformed folk while spraying. It started long before GMO’s. Yet the social media explosion has dramatically increased the insanity.
I have had people claim I killed their dog.
And another claim the Round up ate their skin and made the plaster fall off his house. (Talked to his dad- PTSD)
Or spraying foliar fertilizer damaged their fruit trees. A quarter mile away.
They have zero idea of what is in the tank. Yet know it is BAD.
Much of this mis-information is from the round-up lawyers. Posting for clients on social media.
I would like to mention other reasons why we take care in spray applications:
First, IIT IS THE LAW. There are legal repercussions for drift. Even if it does no damage. And is unintentional.
Second, chemicals are expencive. If not on the crop it is wasted.
Third, If not on the intended weeds, they do not die.
Finally, public relations. The word “neighbor” means – The farmer next door- Being a good neighbor is easier in the long run.
I just had this conversation at the local farmers market. We have our market in a local park. He told me that the park manager had sprayed and killed the dandelions in the park with roundup. I am looking at the lovely green lawn, and say they did not use roundup. He tells me it is carcinogenic, and that people all over the world have roundup in their bodies. And that all wheat fields are sprayed with roundup and we were ingesting roundup when we eat bread. I told him that roundup breaks down very quickly. I asked where he was getting his information. The internet. I told him that he really needed to do some research. And the conversation went straight downhill from there.
Unfortunately no one wants to hear another viewpoint. Their minds are made up.
Careful around those grapes! If you even whisper “2, 4-D” to close to them they start to curl up! Lesson learned. lol