Agriculture seems to me to be overly concerned about what other people think of them. While much of this has to do with defending our special status with the government is many instances, this anxiety is also present in less-subsidized sectors.
Some of it may be attributable to our odd concern over being "over-regulated". I use quotes because what many see as intrusive regulation looks to me like being required to clean up our messes so they don't burden others. Or better yet, regulations offer strong protection from our litigious fellow citizens. Regardless, apparently if we are well thought of, this will ameliorate the problems, the thinking goes.
I'm not sure why we are so concerned. But since we are here is some sobering news:
We are not a prestigious occupation.
I'm not sure why the survey is so old (2009) - maybe you have to buy the fresh stuff. Whatever.
It's even worse when you look at our NORC score.
Maybe I'm just getting old and grumpy, but I don't think I was ever worried about whether people were "dissing" my occupation. In fact, I can enumerate some positive aspects of being ranked lower.
- You are non-threatening. My brother is a DOCTOR. People who are DOCTORS seem to slip the fact into every conversation or attach MD to the scout trip chaperone list. Not all of them, but enough to notice a trend. This gets old. When people find out I'm a farmer, defenses fall instead of raise. They are pretty sure I'm not going to try to overwhelm them with my fabulous intellect or credentials. (Suckers!)
- It's easy to astonish them with simple competence. Let's face it, the bar is pretty low for expectations in conversation or knowledge.
- In a way, we are exotic. Nobody really knows how we live, yet may think they do. Partly that's because we spend inordinate effort trying to mislead them, but mostly it's due to a really unusual way of life.
- You have new stories. Life in rural America is a mystery and an endless source of fascination.
- You have a unique perspective on everything from health care to child-rearing.
- You have strong ties to a long past. You know how people say "X% of the jobs Y years from now don't even exist yet"? Our does and has. For 12,000 years or so. This is often envied more than you might think.
- You job is "explainable". Despite embracing technology like a warm cheerleader on a cold night, farming still is basically the same job it was for, like, ever.
It's not that I don't want people to think well of my work. But I don't expect them to respect me because of my occupation. That could be what we're seeing here in agriculture: a respect entitlement attitude.