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Dealing with bullying on the farm

Dealing with bullying on the farm

Ignoring and blocking people is a good place to start, one farmer said

By Diego Flammini
Staff Writer
Farms.com

Farmers are the subject of cyberbullying on social media platforms.

Several producers have received unkind messages from strangers criticizing the industry and how farmers produce food.

Ignoring and blocking those people from sending you messages is a good course of action when using social media, said Jake Leguee, a cash crop producer from Fillmore, Sask.

“I’ve written a blog for a few years and, anytime you post something with an opinion, there’s always a risk of someone taking it in a different direction,” he told Farms.com. “I’ve seen some pretty ugly comments, but I just try to ignore them for the most part.

“I’m of the mind that people are tough behind a keyboard, but they wouldn’t say those kinds of things to your face. But, honestly, it’s the kind of thing that can wear on you after a while.”

Several of the comments come from people who may be uninformed about the industry, Leguee said.

Some producers feel part of their job is to inform the public about food production in Canada.

But doing so is tough when online personalities have massive followings, said Holly White, a cash crop farmer from Rolling Hills, Alta.

“There’s so much misinformation out there and it’s so easy to be perceived as an expert on social media,” she told Farms.com. “There are people with immense followings but have no actual background in science. They’ll post something that isn’t a peer-reviewed article or something with a solid source and people just take it as gospel. I honestly don’t even think some people know where to go to get good information.”

The federal government has noticed  that social media interactions can affect farmers’ mental health.

On May 31, the House of Commons’ standing committee on agriculture and agri-food tabled a report outlining 10 recommendations to help Canadian farmers prevent and overcome mental health challenges.

The suggestions include combatting cyberbullying in the sector and coordinating research into farmers’ mental health.

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