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Hello Farming Friends,

 

It’s been a while since I’ve been in touch with everyone.  It’s been a long year since COVID first happened and I wrote about what opportunities it would create.

I’ve been working hard behind the scenes to build upon the mission of Bootstrap Farmer & the Urban Farm Academy – those projects will be announced soon.

But today I am reaching out to all of you to share what’s been going on in regards to internet censorship and how it’s affected us, our industry, and our future as an industry. 

As a starting point, I have to point out that big tech (FB/IG/YT/GOOG) has become the landlord and security guard in relation to our access to information as digital consumers and as independent minds.  

For example, when you type something into a search engine, that search engine determines what you see.

An experiment of using duckduckgo.com vs Google for certain topics has very different results. Now there are tons of reasons for that.  For now, I am just highlighting the control they have in what information you see.

For businesses who rely on fair access to these platforms, they find themselves with landlords too.  Landlords whose behavior has become increasingly powerful. 

In the pre-digital age, there were no such gatekeepers – for any of us.

We didn’t notice because there wasn’t a noticeable problem. But then we started to see it for ourselves…

Earlier this year, Bootstrap Farmer started carrying a brand named HempSense. HempSense makes consumer products out of North American grown hemp. We wrote about it and made ads for it – but so far, those have been roundly denied by FB and IG for being “political” in nature. To this day, we are unable to promote this sustainable alternative like we do other products. 

So, from my vantage point, the goal of bringing in a local replacement for coco coir, so far has been deemed too “political” for you to know about.

If that was the only issue – I think I could understand a mix up – but it was not.

With pride, I can tell you 2020 was a good year for American jobs and Bootstrap. 2021 will be no different.

We try to let you know of this through our posts and advertising, but we again run into the issue of denial over “politics” several times.

This isn’t right. 

This is what we’ve seen and where we stand today.  

Where will we stand tomorrow?

I am afraid of who is, or is not, fighting on the behalf of the small farmer. We need to keep an eye out as a small farm community – regardless of personal politics. The combination of big interests and censorship is generally not good for small, independent operations.

I write to you because I know many of you have busy lives. But I feel compelled to use the trust you have in the UFA & Bootstrap to see my hand extended across the aisle in respect and patriotic duty to each one of you reading this.  It will be up to you whether you believe this is a cause worth dedicating personal and political capital to.

If so, here are a few next steps to consider:

 

  1. Education. If all of this news is out of left field, I urge you to check what’s going on outside of your usual news and search engines. I suggest looking into how these companies act when dealing with governments with ideologies very different than here in America. Consider how these global companies may be polluting American values in the interest of their shareholders. 

 

  1. Sharing. With this education in hand, open a door for someone instead of hitting them with it. Hopefully a good example is this very post.  There’s no point in talking to someone in a way that won’t allow them to be open to you. The goal is enrollment, not division.  Farmers are independent minded and respected within their communities – so lead these conversations with respect, and most will return it in kind. 

 

  1. Uniting. This country may be divided, but the independent spirits of the small farming community are not.  When we recognize that, we see how small farmers transcend party politics.  We are the gatekeepers to help others see what we already know – farming is a foundation to independence and resiliency in a community and the culture as a whole.

The independent spirit of farmers needs to be shown off through our creativity and entrepreneurship. 

 

Over the last year, the re-localization and business frameworks provided here at the UFA have proven time tested through COVID.  Those resources remain at no cost to you.  

 

My best suggestions remain in print – through Farm Fusion – i.e meeting people where they want to be met with products they crave.  

 

I’m sure you have your own ideas and I challenge you to put them into action.

 

If we believe in freedom and capitalism – then we have a duty to inspire others to build more resilient communities with us – even when it seems difficult or lost.

Author:

Brandon Youst

Founder, Urban Farm Academy & Bootstrap Farmer