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.