By Gene Hall
When Mike Rowe of the Discovery Channel’s popular “Dirty Jobs with Mike Rowe” program took the stage to thunderous applause at the recent American Farm Bureau Federation Annual Meeting in Atlanta, it struck me that in Rowe, America’s farmers and ranchers had found a kindred spirit.
I’ve always been a little skeptical of America’s celebrity culture and the tendency of famous people to champion causes about which they have little personal knowledge. Because agriculture, which is my life’s work, has so often been victimized by attacks from celebrities, I am reluctant to even consider their positions.
What makes Rowe different, however, is that he’s been there and done that. Many of his Dirty Jobs programs have focused on the hard, difficult and dirty work that often goes with farming and ranching. He’s been contacted by animal rights groups and government agencies questioning what was shown on the screen. He told the Farm Bureau he was able to explain and resolve most of those situations. He wondered out loud that if agriculture’s critics have those incidents wrong, “What else are they wrong about?”
Each of Rowe’s video profiles amounts to an actual experiment of humane versus inhumane animal practices, safety demonstrations and environmental practices. These experiments are complete with video documentation.
Rowe is reluctant to accept the mantle of a spokesman for agriculture. He flatly stated that agricultural people are their own best advocates when he was asked if he’d be willing to accept that role.
American farmers are surrounded by angry activist groups, each with its own agenda. Rowe said: “Our country is asking you (farmers) to do more with less every single year and I see a lot of other agendas pushing at you. The rest of the country needs to understand what you guys do on a day-to-day basis. We are not sufficiently astounded that you guys feed [the world] every day.”
Rowe himself has produced two “brown before green” specials that showcase farmers’ work to care for the earth. He often says the “brown” of the soil is as important as the green agenda. It’s what feeds the world.
“You find a farmer and scrape off the dirt and you’ll find one of the greenest people on the planet,” he said.
I couldn’t say it any better.