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Peterson Farm Brothers offer 5 tips to advocate for agriculture

Progressive Dairyman Editor Karen Lee Published on 11 June 2018
Greg and nathan Peterson

An idea to educate their city friends about life on the farm transformed the Peterson Farm Brothers from Assaria, Kansas, into internet sensations and advocates for agriculture around the world.

“In the last six years, we’ve felt really honored to be a voice for agriculture and for farmers. Our goal is that our videos would not only teach people about agriculture but also give farmers a sense of pride in what they do,” said Greg Peterson at the 2018 Canadian Dairy XPO in Stratford, Ontario.

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The three Peterson brothers – Greg, 27, Nathan, 24, and Kendal, 21 – are mostly well-known for their parody music videos, where they take the music from hit songs, change the lyrics to be about farming and show scenes from their farm and others. Since starting in 2012, the videos they produced have reached more than 51 million people.

“We never set out to make a bunch of YouTube videos,” Greg said. “In fact, we never even set out to reach a bunch of people. We made this video for our friends, and we made it to just show them what our farm was like. It has turned into something that is pretty cool.”

The brothers are part of a fifth-generation farm, which they operate with their parents and younger sister Laura. The farm consists of 2,000 acres and 1,000 head of beef cattle.

Even though they grew up in a rural area, they had a lot of classmates throughout grade school who had no idea what farmers did and why they were important.

It wasn’t until Greg was a junior at Kansas State University, majoring in agricultural communications and minoring in music performance, that the idea of a parody music video came to him. He wanted to create a more entertaining message than the current advocacy videos available and thought of combining his background in farming with his passion for music. “Music has this ability to get people to pay attention,” he said.

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One day, Greg was sitting in a restaurant with some friends and the song “Sexy and I Know It” by LMFAO started playing.

“I don’t even like that song, which is ironic, but I was changing the words to be about farming instead to make my friends laugh. That is when it clicked in my brain to make a parody,” he said.

Upon returning home for the summer, Greg convinced his two brothers to help him produce a video titled “I’m Farming and I Grow It.” They posted it on YouTube and shared it on their personal Facebook pages.

“That’s all we did. Immediately our friends started sharing it, and their friends started sharing it,” Nathan said.

By the end of the week, their first parody music video had more than 5 million views. The brothers were asked to do state and national news interviews, and they used the opportunities to advocate for agriculture.

After their second parody “Farmer Style” garnered 17 million views and became one of the top parodies of the original song “Gangnam Style” by Psy, the brothers decided to do more on social media. They use their Peterson Farm Bros Facebook page to post what they are doing on the farm and share other people’s posts.

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They have created educational videos and blogs, and also utilize Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat. They regularly speak to other farmers, agricultural groups and youth about how to advocate for agriculture.

Here are five tips they offered to help others become advocates too.

1. Take the initiative

Sometimes people worry they don’t know how to advocate for agriculture.

“We didn’t really know what we were doing, and we didn’t know if we should even make that music video, but because we did make that music video, it has led to reaching 50 million people and having a huge impact,” Greg said. He encouraged those looking to advocate for agriculture to just get started by reaching out to one person.

Nathan added, “You never know what impact you’re going to make telling one person something, whether it’s on social media or even just in personal conversation. They might learn something and pass it on to 10 more people, and you might learn something from them too.”

2. Find a bridge

The music in their parody videos is not always the style of music a farmer might choose, but their goal is to appeal to people in urban areas.

“That’s a lesson that we’ve learned in advocating for agriculture is you have to find something that people from the city can relate to, whether that’s music, whether that’s your story, whether that’s your family – there’s lots of different things you can use as that bridge,” Greg said.

3. Be authentic

The Petersons’ first two videos were filmed with smartphones and an iPod Touch. Even though they have upgraded some of their camera equipment and have a drone for aerial footage, Greg said they still film a lot with smartphones.

“A lot of our B-roll is filmed with a cell phone just because that’s what we have in our pockets when we’re farming,” he said.

Professionally produced videos can look too well put together, whereas homemade videos have a certain authenticity to them.

“You don’t have to be a professional videographer to show people what you’re doing on your farm; and it’s pretty cool that we have technology in our pockets now to do that,” Greg said.

4. Build on the efforts of others

“Sometimes advocating for agriculture is just clicking ‘share’ on something somebody else has already created,” Greg said. “You don’t have to take a bunch of time to create; you can just share other people’s content.”

Another way to advocate is to join in on conversations that are happening online, whether a comment string on social media or with articles on blogs or publication websites.

“I see a lot of newspaper articles online with comment sections. These articles will be about food or about farming, and you go to the comment section and there won’t be a single farmer in that comment section,” Greg said. “We need to have people in agriculture joining in on comment conversations.”

Even though the comment sections can get pretty brutal, Nathan said it is important to treat everyone as if you were talking to a friend.

“We don’t get into a yelling match, but we like to state our opinion,” he said. They also share a link to one of their related blog posts to further educate people about the topic.

5. Explore other avenues

Social media isn’t the only outlet to use when advocating for agriculture. Greg suggested getting involved in local farm organizations, working with your local newspaper, inviting people to your farm or having conversations with people you know in your community.

“I still think that when farmers reach out to people in their community, you’ve established credibility with them because they already know you, so they have much more reason to trust you,” Greg said.

The Peterson Farm Brothers plan to use these five strategies as they continue to advocate for agriculture. They are also planning to do a few more parody music videos, which will be released later this year.  end mark

Connect with Peterson Farm Brothers:

PHOTO 1: Greg and Nathan Peterson, left and right respectively, performed some of their popular parody music at the Canadian Dairy XPO CheeseFest on April 4 in Stratford, Ontario. Photo by Lora Bender.

PHOTO 2: Greg Peterson, left, and his brother Nathan, right, presented in the Canadian Dairy XPO dairy classroom to share what they’ve learned about advocating for agriculture. Photo by Karen Lee.

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