The Peterson Farm Brothers, from Assaria, Kansas, have learned a thing or two about projecting a positive image of agriculture over the past few years. What started as a joke at a Sonic drive-thru in 2012 quickly became a heavily viewed and entertaining parody video, “I’m Farming and I Grow It,” that was shared and seen by individuals worldwide nearly 10 million times. Since then, they have created a number of different parody videos via YouTube page (https://www.youtube.com/user/ThePetersonFarmBros), have spoken across the United States and the globe, all while two of them attend college, and they all work on and help run their family farm.
The Peterson Farm Brothers were the keynote speakers at New York Farm Bureau’s Celebration of Agriculture Conference in Syracuse, New York, in March. They spoke to nearly 200 attendees spanning a range of age groups.
Widespread internet acclaim
The totally unexpected rise to internet fame was not only a surprise to these farm boys from rural Kansas, but it also became a phenomenal platform for them to spread a positive message about agriculture, how they farm and why they do it. Their sense of humor along with the deeply ingrained knowledge of their family farm and agriculture turned into humorous yet factual videos of day-to-day operations on a farm in the Midwest. The videos help to explain their way of life to their more suburban or urban friends and followers.
All three brothers – Greg, Nathan and Kendal Peterson – either attended or are currently attending school for agriculture at Kansas State University. All three brothers monitor their social media pages.
“Even if Kendal and I are in class, we watch the comments,” said Nathan, the middle of the three brothers.
Although they regularly engage with their followers and those commenting, they often “encourage civil discussion,” Greg said.
For the followers who may have questions about the Peterson Farm Brothers’ agricultural practices, “you can at least make them think,” Greg said. They will often direct any negative comments to their blog, where they regularly and thoroughly explain why they do what they do on the farm. In addition to their parody videos, they have also produced educational videos on various issues – proving that they practice what they preach and are equally proficient in the agricultural industry as they are on social media.
The brothers all noted that they have enlightened some followers on controversial issues such as the use of genetically modified organisms and conventional versus organic agriculture. They are able to do all of this without negating one practice or the other, and they certainly do their research.
One of their greatest pieces of advice is for other agriculturalists to get out there and “tell your story. We may know our farm but we can’t speak for all the other specific agricultural commodities,” Greg said. He also stresses that all types of agriculture are important, and encourages others to do what they can to have those positive conversations about their farms. And it doesn’t have to be as grand as a viral video. Whether it’s having chats in the grocery store or with a neighbor, every little bit counts in the big picture of advocating for agriculture.
Take the initiative and start with the people who already trust you. They say you will have the most influence over them. The brothers also stressed to be supportive of each other. There is enough division in the world – there’s no need for agriculture to be so divided as well.
The bottom line about the brothers is they love the farm, they are passionate about agriculture, and they are savvy enough to get their message across social media channels.
“The farm is still our No. 1 priority,” Kendal said.
They all hope to go back to the farm full-time one day, but they are also aware that they may still need off-farm income. They also periodically include their younger sister, “honorary bro” Laura, in their videos, when she isn’t behind the camera.
Read more: Utilizing social media for your farm