“In a lot of ways ag’s desire to be united is the thing that divides it the most.” - Sarah Mock
Sarah Mock has built her career around having difficult discussions and chasing the realities of agriculture. She is committed to not being an enemy or a cheerleader of agriculture creating a more balanced, real reporting style. In a world of fake news, her journalistic integrity is most welcomed. In an attempt to not isolate any particular views, mainstream agriculture media has historically chosen to offer very little divisive content. Unfortunately for some, that has led to an overall apathy towards having difficult conversations and being willing to go out on a limb.
“I hear people talk about the need to walk down the middle of the road. But walking down the middle of the road means never saying anything critical about the industry. That’s like the code word in ag media a lot of the time and it's a pushback I’ve gotten from editors before.” - Sarah Mock
Rural journalists, while present, tend to be more rare and deal with agriculture on a national basis. As a freelance journalist, Sarah has been able to explore stories that interest her and that she feels needs to be told including more philosophical based questions to more localized topics. With no interest in avoiding difficult conversations, she strives to open up a platform for honest discussion. She remarks that there seems to be a focus on “positivity” in traditional agriculture narratives that can be detrimental to the wellbeing of those in the industry.
“You’re creating a misconception for people that it’s normal to be happy and positive all the time and that’s how you should want to feel. And it isn’t always the case.” - Sarah Mock
Sarah has given herself a personal pursuit of exploring the possibility of agriculture without exploitation. The use of “exploitation” encompasses time, money, consumers. resources, the environment and the farmers themselves. She doesn’t have an answer to that question but is determined to discover as much as possible towards formulating one. Sarah shares that “we should know the answer to that question” regardless of its outcome in order to better inform our choices. She reflects on what she has observed in agriculture media and the future it might hold.
“Ag got this idea in our collective brain 10 years ago that our real problem is that consumers don’t understand about agriculture and….if we could just explain to people what was happening then we wouldn’t have any problems anymore which seems like a fundamental misread of the whole situation at this point.” - Sarah Mock
The agriculture industry has attempted to bridge the gap between the producer and consumer by providing explanations for practices rather than addressing the specific concerns the public might have. She promotes engaging people by being open to questions and criticism alike. Sarah predicts that the future of agriculture media will be “individuals that have interesting compelling personalities and perspectives that can go straight to their audience themselves.”
This Week on The Future of Agriculture Podcast:
Founder Spotlight: Tyler McGee of Shepherd Farming
“Shepherd is a digital labor platform designed specifically for farms and agriculture operations. It allows growers to quickly see what work needs to be done on their farms for that day and to send and receive tasks from other users.”
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